dOSH has been working hard to support and develop ideas for the future of the Old School Hall that ensure:
- a secure future for the building structure itself, as part of Sneinton's Heritage,
- a sustainable new use that means the building won't keep changing hands and end up empty and disused again any time soon,
- a new use that brings real benefit for the local people and the local environment, with community access to the space.
In simple terms, we need to get the balance right:
The Council has said that the status of the building as an "Asset of Community Value" will be taken into account if planning permission is needed to convert the building to a new use in the future. They have also stated that they are not obliged to accept the highest offer financially, but will take other factors in to account such as those listed above. To make things even more vital to get the balance right, the building is in an 'At Risk' Conservation Area, and is surrounded by 3 'super output areas' that are in the worst 20% in the "Index of Multiple Deprivation" (one area is in the worst 10% for deprivation). Getting the proposal right for the local area is naturally more important than getting the highest possible selling price.
With bids for the building now being accepted, dOSH is keen to ensure that the Council has the means to assess these on the basis of their value BEYOND the simple £££. After all, we and the Council share a common interest in finding a purchaser who will be in it for the long term, a neighbour who will use the building in a way that improves the area (Council land surrounds the building on 3 sides) and who will provide a good FIT in the Conservation Area and help alleviate the deprivation endured by people locally.
We have done the research and found a method for assessing proposed projects for their Community Benefit and Social Investment value. When we ran this by the Council they told us that it "makes some very good points and is certainly and excellent guide" to what they would be looking for.
So we are suggesting that anyone preparing a bid should include this 'Community Impact Screening' documents as part of their submission. We've even turned it into a spreadsheet template to make it easy to fill out! Naturally, we'll be expecting to see the building passed on to a new owner who has a convincing, well supported and thoroughly researched plan in place...
Watch this space!
Links to the Community Impact Screening documents: