Fearing the building would be lost to the community, Stroud Town Council agreed a last minute rescue package. However this was subject to detailed surveys and costings, a full business plan and the need to overcome a number of legal obstacles. These have now been done and the purchase is due to be completed tomorrow (October 26th).
For the past decade The Space has occupied Lansdown Hall in the heart of the town. The building has become a popular venue for concerts, films, exhibitions, plays, charity events, birthday parties and much more.
The deal involves leasing back the building to the charity to continue to run it as a community venue. Emergency repairs are to be carried out to the building’s exterior to make it weatherproof for the winter. A full programme of repairs and improvements will begin next Spring. This will include upgrading the plumbing, heating and electrics and improving the environmental credentials of the grade two listed building.
Cllr Dave Cockcroft, chair of the council’s finance committee said: "I’m delighted we can secure this building for community use for the long-term. We’re going to make sure it’s renovated and that facilities are improved to maximise its use. I look forward to many more great evenings’ entertainment here in the future."
Jeremy Collingwood, chairman of The Space’s Trustees, said it would be a fresh start for the centre: “A few months ago we were facing closure. The repairs needed to keep the building running were beyond our means. Now thanks to the Town Council we are here to stay.”
He added: “Previously The Space was just an arts centre for a section of the community. We want to make it a centre for the whole community and will be reaching out in as many ways as we can.”
Thanks to funding from the Big Lottery the main floor has just been renewed. A move that’s brought strong praise from many users, especially dance groups. Plans are now being made to improve the lighting and increase the capacity to attract bigger artists.
The Town Council has paid £96,000 for the building and set aside £5,000 for fees. Additional funding has been set aside to carry out future repairs and improvements to the building.
Stroud Mayor Andy Read said he had been impressed by the level of public support for the proposal by everyone he had spoken to about it. “The Space is a key part of the town’s fabric. In many ways it has become Stroud’s Village Hall. Stroud is well known for its fabulous sense of community. As a place where so much happens. The key to this is the existence of public buildings such as The Space.”
Article added online 25th October 2010
Photo left: Stroud Mayor Andy Read and Jeremy Collingwood, chair of the Space trustees, officially mark the purchase of the building alongside fellow town councillors, staff and trustees.
Pic by Steve Hurrell