There are amazing people all over the country working on projects to rescue and redevelop precious buildings that will make a difference.
Sometimes it’s a single totemic asset like a pier, town hall, theatre or hospital. In other places it’s a wider neighbourhood focus.
If you want to do something positive and ambitious in your neighbourhood, but it feels too difficult or daunting that’s where I can help. You can do it… with some coaching, advice and hands-on help to guide you through, especially in fundraising, developing your organisation, and building community support.
I started working with Ancoats Dispensary in July 2013 when the vigil was already 300 days old. This is a grassroots group of local residents and other champions, led by the formidable Linda Carver without whom the Dispensary would be dust already. Instead we see them now in a joint venture partnership with igloo regeneration, successfully awarded a Round 1 HLF Heritage Enterprise grant, and now deep in the development phase with the excellent Karen Houghton as chief executive.
Bradford Live is working to transform the largest of the great super-cinemas outside London into a commercially viable and sustainable, professionally-run, 4,500 capacity live music/ performance venue, rejuvenating the city and rekindling civic pride.
Built in 1930, this much loved twin-domed theatre played a central role in the social and cultural history of Bradford. It is still important both in the hearts and minds of local people and in the cityscape. I’ve been supporting the Bradford Live team through an HLF Heritage Enterprise application. Fingers crossed for a positive decision in January 2016.
Bognor Pier is currently owned by Bognor Pier Leisure Ltd, a private family company. The owner is worried about the future and knows he will not be able to raise private finance for the restoration work that will eventually be required. Bognor Pier Trust and the Friends of Bognor Pier want to ensure the pier is saved for the future. Through the BRICK Brokers project, I facilitated the partnership, which led to the owner offering an unused pier building as a base to build community support and develop a Heritage Enterprise bid.
The beautiful Victoria Pier at Colwyn Bay is under severe threat. In October 2013 I was asked to advise on the HLF-funded project led by Conwy County Borough Council. I said they should rewrite the budget (following lessons from Hastings Pier) and give Shore Thing, the social enterprise that was due to take over after restoration, some responsibility and resource to help them step up into that role. They ignored me and voted for demolition, handing back the HLF money (£594k). Shore Thing became Colwyn Victoria Pier Trust, formed a partnership with the Town Council and in 2014 we submitted an HLF Major Grant application for the annual deadline of 30 November. The Trust has grown from strength to strength – with over 1500 members. But HLF rejected the bid because it didn’t have ‘clear support’ from the county council. Bitterly disappointed, the Trust refuse to give up – and in that they show the spirit of the Jericho Road!
I’ve been working with South Parade Trust since just before I started Jericho Road Solutions and, like all these projects, it’s a saga! I helped them get SIB pre-feasibility grant and HLF start-up grant. Then they became one of the 10 demonstrators in the CADO (Community Assets in Difficult Ownership) programme. In the middle of it all the ownership changed, throwing the project into uncertainty but giving the pier a real chance. The Trust ran a very successful petition – totalling over 12,500 signatures or 9% of the population of Portsmouth – asking the council to issue a Repairs Notice under s48 of the Listed Buildings Act. This prompted CADO to argue successfully for non-hostile standalone Repairs Notices, not as a precursor to compulsory purchase but to lay down expectations for new or prospective owners.
White Rock Trust
In November 2006 a large public meeting led to the formation of the Friends of Hastings Pier. 14 months later this became Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust, the midwife for the famously successful rescue of the pier. Once HPWRT had sorted out the politics, the ownership and the money, we established the Hastings Pier Charity to drive the implementation. At that point we had to decide whether to dissolve or find a new role. In June 2013 we became White Rock Trust and turned our attention to the wider neighbourhood and its other assets. The Trust has over 420 members and its work is based on the community organising approach – ongoing outreach to find leaders and support them to tackle issues they care about. The Trust is a partner in White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures, the owner and developer of Rock House – a mixed-use, capped rent creative space in a 9-storey 1969 office block.
The Clitterhouse Farm Project (CFP)
Jericho Road Solutions guided CFP through incorporation, and is helping with strategic planning, fundraising and negotiating the asset transfer. Working with other local community groups, an experienced board of advisors, Barnet Council and the Brent Cross Cricklewood Developers – the mission is to transform the historic Clitterhouse farm into a vibrant hub for the community and local enterprise. To build social cohesion, create a shared sense of pride in the area and to bring local people together through arts, culture, food growing, the principles of sustainability, skill-sharing, educational workshops and training. CFP was founded in early 2013 by local residents – who all live within five minutes walk of Clitterhouse Farm.