Following months of discussions regarding the long term strategic plan for the Reading Room, we were able to speak with our members at the AGM in April. The members were able to provide useful guidance and advice and many helpful matters about our future were discussed.
Subsequently, the Trustees had a meeting with the proposed developer on Wednesday 20th April. He provided an updated draft for a new building from the architect. We are happy that he had listened carefully to all the ideas and wishes the Trustees have received and collected in the last three years.
The really good news is that the Trustees were unanimously agreed that the draft presented to the meeting, in principle, met all their criteria. Unsurprisingly, there were a number of small areas which require more discussion. These included the exact size of the office, location of doors, flexibility of storage and ensuring the best flow of people in the welcome area. However, it was strongly agreed that all these details could be settled in time.
Another important outcome was that the Trustees and proposed developer agreed the outline financing. In other words the Trustees believe the costed draft new Reading Room plans will give us what we want and, vitally, when we want it. The developer knows he has to construct a detailed scheme for the building on the current car park which will be accepted by the planners. The profit from this will deliver the funding to build and hand over the new Reading Room. Only when this is fully installed will the developer receive ownership of the car park for building the agreed houses.
At the AGM, it was accepted that this cannot be achieved without agreeing to the demolition of the current building. The case for this is irresistible, as all the surveys agree that it cannot be renovated for any worthwhile purpose either for us or for a purchaser. Indeed, the ongoing maintenance issues convince the Trustees that the expectation of continuing 21st Century use of the building is increasingly problematic.
Another matter to note is that the scheme for our new building and the development of the new houses will be submitted for planning as a whole. Although there are two stages, first, the new Reading Room and second, the new housing, each is dependent on the other.
The architect and developer are now working on the whole scheme plans to prepare for submission to planners. Trustees are consulting our solicitor to prepare a paper to begin the pathway to contract with the developer. We are also seeking definitive VAT advice to ensure we know exactly the position on that key subject.
It was agreed that we might be able to consult with the wider village community in the early autumn, perhaps September.
The Trustees recognise the importance of openness and transparency when communicating our plans. Some aspects of the discussions will, of course, be subject to confidentiality agreements, but wherever possible, we will keep everyone updated with progress. We will do this via our website, newsletter and social media, as well as a more permanent display inside the Reading Room.
These are exciting times for the Reading Room Charity and we look forward to you joining us on our journey towards a new building, fit for another 100 years.
Chair of Trustees, Curdridge Reading Room
- 7 Jun, 2016
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