Reading-based theatre group Rabble has been awarded a lease on a Grade II-listed 17th Century stable block in Caversham.

Reading Borough Council’s policy committee approved the decision on Monday, April 5. The council decided to accept less than it could get for the vacant buildings because, councillors agreed, Rabble met the authority’s social and community policies.

In total nine offers were made, six from private organisations and three from charity/community groups. Rabble, which has operated in Reading for 10 years, was widely praised by councillors.

Cllr Karen Rowland said: “Rabble Theatre has always engaged well and positively with the council and really works in a lovely symbiosis with our corporate aims of an inclusive economy, thriving community and healthy environment, all of which Rabble just seems to get, so that’s really delightful.”

She said it would mean the stable block would be maintained and bring benefits to the area.

She added: “It’s not every day that a council can afford not to seek what one might consider best value and, instead, consider things such as social value and community value. But in this case, with this building, this is the right decision and I fully support that.”

Rabble’s lease is for 10 years at the end of which the group will be offered an option to buy a further 999-year lease.

The stables and the cobbled courtyard were originally adjacent to the long-gone Caversham Court mansion. Rabble plans to use the space for rehearsals, youth and adult education, community engagement projects, offices, storage and some of its ongoing work and may offer development space to other organisations.

In time the group hopes to be able to make use of Caversham Court gardens for its work.

Image: Google.

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