In 2015, the trust’s Advisory Group prepared a business plan for the future development, maintenance and management of the trust’s land and buildings. This is centred on a long-term investment approach and carrying out £400k of improvements to the barn and recreation ground.
Cllr John North, chair of the WRGT, said: “The council as sole trustee has a responsibility to make sure the new trust is viable and sustainable. Our ambition has always been for the new trust to be separate from the council and we favour a major barn improvement scheme.
“Unfortunately, we have not been able to sign-up to the Advisory Group’s plan as it would require significant on-going support from the council. The solution may not be the Advisory Group’s business plan or the preferred scheme detailed in the B2 Options Appraisal. We are open to an alternative solution if it provides the best solution for the trust so it can flourish. This is why we want further expert advice.”
The Advisory Group’s chair Alex Kolombos, said: “Wells has many venues all competing for business. We have been researching how the barn could meet community needs and fill any gaps in the market. We believe there is significant potential to use the barn as a major exhibition space, as well as growing its historic use as a venue for dances and parties. The removal of the 9pm music curfew would be a big step in achieving this”
“There is an urgent need to carry out both essential repairs and refurbishments to the barn and its setting, and we have identified some £400k of improvements over the next few years. We feel this is a very ambitious plan that can be achieved by the wise investment of the remaining trust’s cash from the sale of Park Cottage into a long-term endowment fund providing much-needed income to help run the whole site. The council will not have to provide any more support than it is currently providing to the recreation ground, and if we are successful in expanding the use of the barn, this will reduce the cost to the tax payer in future years.”
It is anticipated that a consultant will start in late February and report progress to the next WRGT Committee meeting in April.