We submitted the planning application in late December 2017 but a decision is still awaited. So far there has been a lot of public support and no difficult comments or insurmountable problems from any of the council’s consultees, so we are hoping that we will get approval before too long. If you want to read the planning file, you will find it under Calderdale MBC Planning Department’s website against application reference number 18/00002/CON. If you would like to express your support you can do this on the planning website.
Now that the lease has been signed we are able to submit a number of Lottery-based grant funders and this will start within the next few days. These grant applications cover capital building works (repairs and alterations) and installations (to bring specific elements of the site and buildings into a particular use).
Our application to the Charity Commission was originally made in late 2016 but we hit significant problems in trying to aim for more than would easily fit into their boxes. We were forced to take professional advice from a charity expert (the costs kindly covered by 2 of our members) and we are now extremely hopeful of achieving registration. We have had to proposed some amendments to our Articles of Association to do this, so we are still going through the process, but progress is definitely being made.
We will always need money! Now that the lease is in place we will be faced with business rates, insurances and electricity bills at an early stage and our costs will escalate. As mentioned above we now have some funds towards repairs to the buildings but very little for running costs. We will need to address how we pay for the increasing amount of administration and will probably have to pay an administrator before too long. An initial estimate is that we will need about £10,000 in the first year, increasing in subsequent years.
We also raise funds at various events such as the quarterly Totally Locally markets, events held in the fire station etc and bucket collections, and other charitable organisations often share out their funds with us.We have also benefited from gifts and payments in kind such as a PA system from Huddersfield University, a 25 foot film screen from Hebden Bridge Film Society, blackout curtains from J & C Joel Ltd, and immense help from EPS Plant Hire, The Works Pub, Skyblazers, J A Productions, D D Porter Ltd; O&W Crawshaw Ltd; Priestley&Taffs Ltd; Ryburn Valley Builders Merchants, Thunderfix, Thor Home Care, Rushbearing, Rotary, Sowerby Bridge Civic Trust and many, many others.
We have three immediate concerns about the buildings relating to the combined effects of dry rot, rainwater ingress and pigeons – these are the barrier to us moving into any of the first floor rooms and into the swimming pool building. The solutions to these problems can only be found by a large input of cash so that we can employ a contractor to deal with them, or by supporters from the building trade helping out with work in kind. Without this we can only nibble around the edges.
We completed five morning sessions of voluntary work to clear out plaster from walls and ceilings, remove rubbish and build timber partitions and barriers to pave the way for a community building contractor to remove a portion of the roof over Gym 1 and some timber floors in the front building. Our goal is to create a physical separation to the spread of the dry rot to and from the Library which will enable the Council to complete its own dry rot work in the Library. The relevant portion of the roof was then removed successfully and we now have daylight down into basement! The cost of this was covered by a legacy sum from Calderdale MBC attached to the signing of the lease.
We have completed the first phase of roof repairs – the rear roofs of the council offices and the roof of the hose tower attached to the fire station. This work was put out to competitive tender and Happy Days Building & Roofing (part of the Happy Days Social Enterprise) carried out the work, the costs being covered by a grant from Sowerby Bridge Development Board. Unfortunately our funds were insufficient to cover the front roof of the council office, nor to remove the willow which is sprouting from the parapet gutter but we’ll tackle these as soon as we possibly can.
We are developing a timetable of works across the whole site (our Development Plan) to prioritise the order of work so that we get parts of the buildings into either temporary use or better still into permanent use. The implementation of the Development Plan will depend on the results of our grant applications and will inevitably result in a phased timetable but we are very conscious of the importance of getting the buildings into community-supportive use as soon as possible – we’ve all waited far too long for this!
Small schemes will include getting some plumbing and toilets into the buildings, creating fire escape and access doors in various places and ever more stripping out work.
If we have any money left after these two projects have been completed we will see if it is possible to install an electrical ring main throughout the buildings and do some drains investigations.