Site: Turners Lodge
Type: Former Public Toilets
Location: Bollington, Cheshire West
FormerOwner: Macclesfield Borough Council (abolished when the Cheshire East Council was formed)
Lessee: Bollington Initiative Trust
Finding sustainable uses for heritage assets can be problematic. Even the best plans require regular review to ensure their relevance. Adaptability by the community organisation has been key to the success of the Turner's Lodge project, not only in terms of securing investment, but also in finding new uses for the building when situations change.
The Bollington Initiative Trust was established in 2002 with the primary aim of safeguarding land and buildings of community value or heritage interest in the village of Bollington. This was initially prompted by pressures from commercial developments that had resulted in many local buildings being bought and developed as housing.
The Trust began surveying the area and proactively identifying land and buildings that they could help to protect and find alternative uses for through transfer into the community trust. They successfully acquired a local woodland, transferred from a private owner, and also took on a management agreement for a former school.
A toilet block located prominently beside the bus terminus had been left vacant and dilapidated for about 15 years, and the Trust decided it was a building of local character that was worth saving. The building was transferred to the Trust in 2009 on a 99-year lease by Macclesfield Borough Council in a process lasting over two years.
Initially, the Trust sought to raise funds to do up the building and establish it as their office base, but this proved difficult. A local group, The Bollington Carbon Revolution, subsequently developed a scheme to establish the centre as a demonstration facility and in 2012 a green energy project called GoLo Macclesfield came forward with a proposal and most of the investment for a scheme to create a demonstration low-energy building, with Government funding secured through Cheshire East Council. As a result the Trust granted GoLo a low-cost five-year lease.
The development involved a small extension and complete refurbishment to create an office and demonstration space with installation of exemplary energy-saving measures including a wood-burning heating system, solar panels, high-grade insulation and triple-glazed windows. The building served the purposes of GoLo until the organisation unfortunately ceased trading.
The Trust then re-acquired possession of the building, now known as Turner's Lodge, and are currently in the process of seeking a new tenant, having recently appraised the rental market potential accordingly.
A successful model
While the acquisition, development, and subsequent use of the building have been far from straightforward, the flexibility of the Bollington Initiative Trust in partnership with other local organisations has helped to reverse the decline of this small local landmark.
It is now an extremely attractive energy-efficient building fit to serve a variety of uses as local office or retail space, while providing an income to maintain the building and invest in other local community initiatives and conservation projects.
The Trust are now negotiating the final stages of an asset transfer of the much larger Water Street School and are likely to continue to play a key role in preserving and finding new uses for local community buildings important to the character of Bollington.