It’s time for a brief update on progress. And progress is indeed being made – maybe not quickly but at least steadily. Since the last PCT member update we have made progress on governance and management of the village hall, securing land for local needs affordable housing and planning for the shop. As a key stake holder in the hall and shop, the Trust board have been in contact with Parracombe School meeting Jayne Peacock, executive head teacher and Jan Stokes, chair of governors, to keep them abreast of our plans and listen to their needs.
We’ve agreed in principle terms for the sale of land on the northern edge of the village as our site for local needs affordable housing. We’re now in the process of making an application for initial funding to cover legal costs from the local authority.
In the meantime we’ve approached some housing associations to see if they would like to build these homes in partnership with ourselves. Possible partners include North Devon Homes, ASTER and South West Homes and it’s important to note that we’ll choose the ‘best fit’ rather than necessarily the best financial deal (although those two things are not mutually exclusive). Sympathetic designs, strong environmental awareness and a track record of delivering projects on time will all be key.
Looking ahead, the housing partner will offer homes only to eligible candidates registered with Devon Home Choice. So if any PCT members, or anyone they may know are interested in being considered for one of these homes it is vitally important they register with Devon Homes Choice right now.
PCT will be working with the housing partner to help verify a prospective tenant’s local connection using guidelines formulated by the local planning authority.
Following the advice from Wessex CLT Project, our advising partners, the existing Village Hall charity has now been wound up. The governance model of the Trust’s incorporation as a Community Benefit Society, in conjunction with a new village hall constitution, provides us with a robust system of governance. We’re currently waiting on lawyers to draw up a new lease – this will allow Parracombe Parish Council (the hall’s owners) to formally lease the property to the Community Trust. Once this is done it will vastly improve our chances of getting grant support from outside charities and organisations.
A big thank you to the members who helped clear out and remove a large number of aging (sometimes rotting) bits of furniture and fittings from the hall back in March. More soon on plans to give the hall a temporary facelift (cleaning / painting etc) together with a new exterior name-sign and an information board.
After a great deal of work by the shop sub-committee, we are now at the final stages of the business plan development and planning application submission. The team have been working closely at every stage of development with Exmoor National Park Authority on pre-planning advice and we are confident that we have a well thought out and efficient design that doubles the footprint of existing building. The design ensures that the project not only creates the required trading space but also retains the public toilet facilities and enhances the building and its surroundings as a social meeting space. We have also consulted with Sport England on our proposals and they have indicated that they don’t have any concerns about using part of the playing field, currently the terraced area in front of the pavilion, to increase the size of the existing building.
The next step, in tandem with the planning application and public consultation, is fundraising. The initial project costs (architecture design and ecology study) have so far been funded by the Trust from the its small reserves. Funding for the capital building and capital running costs will be sought through a number of sources; a community share offer, match funding, grants, donations and community fundraising events. The capital building costs are estimated at £90,000 to £100,000 (building conversion and extension is estimated at £75,000 – £80,000 and £15,000 – £20,000 required for landscaping, access improvements, car parking and hard surfaces). Fixed assets (displays, shelving, refrigeration, POS etc,) and working capital (stock and cash) are estimated at £20,000. So in total we are looking at raising up to £120,000.
We are targeting community share fundraising, share offer matching and donations to raise half the required costs, the other half from grant funding. In the next few weeks you will receive details on our community share offer.
Fundraising events for the PCT
There was another excellent Beaford production at the village hall on May 24th in the shape of Paul O’Donnell’s ‘musical extravaganza’ We’ve Got Each Other. This was a brilliant and innovative comedy which completely won over an initially mystified audience. It was a great advert for going to see a Beaford event even if you have no idea in advance as to its content. The shows are a really important way to support your hall’s financial security so please, if you possibly can, do keep buying the tickets. Our Autumn production will be announced shortly.
In the meantime, our next event in aid of the Trust is the Parracombe Open Gardens on Sunday 21st July. Eight gardens around the village, including Heddon Hall, will be open to visitors from 10am to 5pm. There will be plants for sale in some gardens and refreshments will be served at the Village Hall. Cost £6 for gardens entry (children free). Please come along if you can.
And finally …
There’s still a lot to do and to help us achieve our goal of opening the doors to our new community shop in 2020 and update the hall for the 21st century, we are looking for people to assist us. We are particularly in need of legal, project management or retail management experience. Whatever your experience there’s plenty to do, if you have a little spare time and would like to get involved we’d really love to hear from you.
Not a member? Join us and make a difference. Becoming a member is a simple, but hugely important, act in itself. It means we can keep you updated invite you to meetings and ask your opinion. Find out more and join here.
David Austin, Chair Parracombe Community Trust
Parracombe Community Trust Limited registered under the Co-operative Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 as a Community Benefit Society Registration Number 7804.