Paul Jardine of Jura Consultants gave a 30 minute presentation about the options appraisal which his firm is currently undertaking, and answered questions from the audience at the end.
He spent most of the time describing the options appraisal process with reference to similar projects undertaken by Jura.
Garrison House, Ayrshire
This was an 8 year project. Jura had to persuade 6-8 funding bodies of the long term sustainability of the building.They developed a long list of possibilities. From these it was finally decided to house the local library, the museum service (formerly in boxes) and to build a discreet contemporary extension for a café.
Blairtummock House, Easterhouse
This was a run down listed building, formerly a GP surgery. The project to develop it took 4 years from start to finish. Following the options appraisal it was decided to create a suite of offices which could be used flexibly by local businesses such as web designers. There is also a large room which can be used for meetings. One of the main aims was to create and encourage local business. The outcome was not an expected one but came about after the options appraisal revealed that businesses were leaving the area, a fairly run down part of Glasgow with many social problems.
Lews Castle, Western Isles
Built for James Matheson in the C19th, the building was occupied by a college and then became disused and vandalised. Following the options appraisal it has been decided that it should be converted into a boutique hotel and a home for the Museum of the Western Isles. The current banking crisis has delayed these plans.
Belle Vue Park, Newport
A public park in Newport which had become very run down and vandalised. Jura found funding to restore the Victorian features including terracotta, a magnificent cascade and pond.
Jura Consultants’ role at Gunnersbury
This is likely to be a 10 year project in total. The first step is the options appraisal to help develop a value for money solution for the buildings and the park. Jura Consultants will:
* Define objectives for the project
* Consider options
* Identify, quantify and, where possible, value the costs, benefits and uncertainties of each option
* Put the costs and benefits on a comparable basis
* Weigh up the uncertainties
* Asses and balance the options
* Present the results
Q Did any of the buildings described have covenants regarding their use?
A Yes – but these were not allowed to dictate the options which were chosen. In some cases covenants had to be removed or varied. Jura are looking at the covenants at Gunnersbury, but will not let these stand in the way of a preferred option.
Q Are you involving any other local groups in helping to draw up the long list, e.g. ward forums?
A We have already spoken with elected members and others. The shortlist will involve different packages based on critical assets including the stable block, the mansion houses and the bath house.
Q We are not all familiar with these buildings. Is there a possibility of a tour?
A Richard Gill asked whether anyone in the audience would be interested. Most were interested so he agreed to arrange a tour of the 2 mansions.
Q What arrangements were there for the future management of the projects described in the presentation?
A Sustainability was an important part of the projects but the management and governance arrangements depend on the various uses to which the buildings are being put, e.g. in one case a community development trust was set up.
Q I am concerned about the long lead time because the buildings are deteriorating. Is anything being done about repairs?
A RG answered that he has obtained a temporary repair grant for the current year and will reapply for next year. Funds are currently being used on the stable block.
Q What are the available funding sources?
A There are several funding sources, but the main ones are English Heritage which has already expressed a keen interest in Gunnersbury, and the Heritage Lottery Fund which has donated funds to parks in the past.
Q I am concerned about rumours of building houses in the park and do not trust council promises.
A We will consider all the options based on need and will then look at the costs and funding methods. All options must be seen as part of a package. The executive bodies of Hounslow and Ealing will look at recommendations from English Heritage and council officers before making a decision.
Q I am concerned about the upkeep of the park which has been seriously neglected.
A RG made assurances that the park will continue to be looked after and developed. Capel Manor College has promised help and have already planted some trees near the car park. He is taking steps to reduce vandalism, although it can never be completely eliminated in a public park.
At the end of the meeting the audience was asked to submit suggestions for the park and buildings to RG. One member of the audience talked of the lack of facilities for children with disabilities in the local area, and advocated the installation of a specialist adventure playground and a centre for life skills and other training. There are funding opportunities for such facilities.