Type: Maltings Building and Sackhouse
Location: Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
Owner: Wells Maltings Trust
A Grade II listed former maltings building and sackhouse in the centre of Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk is being transformed into a multi-use community facility.
The Wells Maltings Trust will regenerate the former industrial buildings, built in the 1830s, to offer improved community space, a new heritage centre, business units for start-up enterprises, and a central box office area with café, tourist information provision and retail units.
A local regeneration partnership recognised the potential to regenerate the historic Maltings and Sackhouse to provide first-rate cultural and community facilities in the town. A need was identified for a multi-use facility which could bring people together to tackle the key issues of loneliness, fragmentation and economic disadvantage in this rural coastal region.
Volunteers from Friends of the Granary and the Wells Community Association, who had been managing the community rooms and running a bar, were supported by the Town Council and District Council to form a charity, the Wells Maltings Trust, to take ownership of the buildings and develop a sustainable working model.
The asset transfer process took time as North Norfolk District Council and the Trust undertook structural surveys to understand the condition of the building, which was in a poor state structurally. Eventually the terms of a 100-year lease were agreed in 2010.
A board of volunteers and seven working groups, again populated by volunteers and local enthusiasts, are taking forward each strand of the project: heritage, arts, youth, facilities management, community fundraising, development, and tourist information.
Soon after the transfer the Trust were approached by the Council to manage the tourist information service and given five years of tapered funding to support a small staff team and develop a team of volunteers. Since the transfer of ownership a phased redevelopment has been under way.
The first phase, The Sackhouse, opened in 2014 and has been transformed into mixed community space, seven affordable offices for micro businesses, hot-desking facilities and community space to hire.
A successful model
The Trust sought the help of Locality to broker an architect who could help them achieve their vision and offer pro bono support in the early stages of the project.
The architect commissioned understood that the charity had no money to develop the designs needed for Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) application for Phase 2, but that the work could lever in significant investment to take the project forward.
The many strands of the project - including heritage, business support, arts and tackling social exclusion - have attracted a broad range of funders, but this is logistically hard to manage with a small staff team. Finding core costs for staffing is also an ongoing issue for the Trust.
However, the group believe that the phased approach to the project has helped prove their ability to complete their ambitious plans and gain the support of the community, professionals and funders. The facilities, when completed, will provide opportunities for the whole community to integrate, learn from, and support each other in an inspiring, self-sustaining environment.
The Trust need to raise approximately £3m in total for Phase 2 of the renovations to repair, restore and develop the Grade II listed Maltings building as a new heritage and learning centre, café, box office, community space and auditorium. In November 2013 the Trust passed the first round of an HLF bid (£1.84m) and the Coastal Communities Fund and are making a capital appeal to local businesses.
The Trust has also received funding from the following sources: Rural Development Programme East, Garfield Weston, Trusthouse Charitable Foundation, Community SOS Fund, Big Society Fund, Awards for All and Sheringham Shoal Fund.
They are currently developing a detailed business plan, commissioning final architectural drawings and putting together a training and recruitment programme for volunteers before submitting the second-round application in autumn 2014.