AN eleventh-hour deal has been struck over access to Colchester’s former clock museum.
Colchester Council wants to lease the Tymperleys in Trinity Street to jam-makers Wilkin and Sons, which wants to open it as a tea room.
Talks were halted when the landlord of the adjacent Art Cafe, who owns the archway and passage leading to Tymperleys, said there was no public access.
However, an agreement has finally been reached two years after Tymperleys closed and talks to open a tea room will resume soon.
James Weaver, who runs the Art Cafe in Trinity Street with wife Maggie and daughter Jenny for six years, said he was glad the situation had been resolved.
He said: “The Art Cafe is our pride and joy, it is our income and this whole issue has been a horrible distraction.”
Colchester Council had argued there was an established use of the passageway and applied to the Land Registry to settle the dispute.
The issue was due to be debated through two days of legal argument but a deal was reached hours before the case was due to be heard.
Andrew Weavers, the council’s legal services manager, said title deeds relating to Tymperleys and the Art Cafe will be amended.
He said work will be carried out to ensure the agreement will also apply to the use of Tymperleys as a tea room.
Mr Weavers said: “Public access through from Trinity Street to Tymperleys has existed for decades.
“Bernard Mason, who used to own Tymperleys, used to drive his car through the passageway and park it in his garage and our research has found Tymperleys was used as a doctor’s surgery at one point.
“Now the public right of way will be officially recorded by the adjudicator for the Land Registry.”
Colchester Council closed Tymperleys, a 16th century listed building, once the home of Royal physician William Gilberd, in 2010 to save money.
The clocks have been moved to Hollytrees Museum or are in storage.
Lyn Barton, borough councillor who has fought for a new use to be found for Tymperleys, said: “I am delighted the matter has been resolved.
"A Wilkin tea rooms would be a major tourist attraction for Colchester town centre and also be a boost for retail in that area.”