Campaigners working hard to save a historic Maple Cross barn from collapse and transform it into a farming heritage centre are one step closer to preserving it for future generations after a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant

The 16th century barn has stood on its current the Woodoaks Farm site, in Denham Way, since Victorian times.

The Black Barn was moved from one part of the farm to its current location during the Victorian period.

However, the Black Barn is now in danger of collapse as its foundations have recently moved, meaning that the building is in need of urgent repair.

Sally Findlay, who owns Woodoaks Farm with husband John, said: "The Black Barn has been a local landmark for nearly 500 years.

"It is important to preserve it for future generations of local people including walkers, birdwatchers, historians and the thousands of people that drive past every day."

It has had many uses over the years, from traditional farming practices such as drying crops to more recent barn dances and providing a community space for meetings.

A HLF grant has meant that there is new hope for the barn and farming heritage in Maple Cross.

HLF have granted Groundwork South, a local environmental and community regeneration charity, a cash boost of £29,900 to develop plans for the barn to be turned into a farming heritage centre. 

An application for a full grant will be made later in 2014.  The centre would allow people to learn about and get involved with their heritage through community usage, educational activities, public access and training in traditional skills. 

The hope is that this will encourage the conservation of key areas of farmland and local wildlife.

Nadia Igsiz, farming heritage centre project manager at Groundwork South, said: "The interest and support from the local community is fantastic, making this an incredibly exciting project to be involved with.  Restoring the barn and creating a hub not only for farming heritage, but for local community groups too, is brilliant."

Robyn Llewellyn, head of HLF east of England, said: "The barn is a 16th century focal point for agriculture in this part of Hertfordshire. It offers great potential as a centre for learning, visitors and the community. We look forward to receiving the full plans for its restoration and its new role."