The Complex business plan formed through the work of the feasibility study was reliant upon substantial grant funding for its implementation. Download feasibility study HERE.
The Ledbury Places directors strongly felt after the failure of the second bid, that the grant seeking process was restricting our ability to do anything to the buildings we have become custodians of, and hampering efforts to develop usage of them. This has come to a head with the deterioration of certain elements on the Barrett Browning Institute(BBI) leading to prompt action being needed. The planned renovation/repair works have been brought forward as a result. We need to keep enough funds in reserve to keep functioning, so the current works are aimed at making the building envelope safe and watertight. This involves the rebuilding of two chimneystacks, repairing and reinstating cast iron gutters and introducing snow guards as a loose tile early warning system whilst replacing or re-fixing loose tiles and flashings and gullies, repairs to a stone lintel, repairs to leaded lights, and repairs to rotted timber framing.
Our mindset now is to develop emergent uses of the buildings (particularly the BBI), and to seek support and funding to promote and encourage this process, and the building usage that comes as a result. This has already led to the development of a youth drop in centre, which uses the BBI two evenings a week, but could with more volunteers run every evening of the week. There is a perception amongst both the trustees, and the organisers of the youth group that the BBI could become a building focussing on the youth of Ledbury, and this idea is now being developed.
We will be seeking smaller and specific grants to fund specific items which become identified as needed as these ideas are developed.
The Old Grammar School continues to house the Heritage Centre(HC) on the ground floor. The Ledbury Places board has been working closely with the HC volunteers to develop and upgrade the offer in the HC, and will be looking to make a modest grant application to upgrade the exhibition space and the exhibits themselves. The board are also looking for an ongoing use of the upper floor which will generate income. It is felt at this stage that unless it is part of wider plan to focus on holiday accommodation, we should not pursue conversion plans for which we have planning consent.
Ledbury Places has spent the last year or more developing its internal structure to deal with management of the assets it has taken on, and this process is on-going in line with its long term aims. This has meant that the Heritage Centre has been able to continue to operate in the Old Grammar School, and the BBI has been retained as a community asset.