All set to take on Saint Mary's Church
Exciting news at last, real progress! The Representative Body of the Church in Wales has agreed to let the church to the trust on a peppercorn rent for ten years. This will give the trust time to prepare detailed proposals and make applications to The Heritage Lottery Fund, Cadw and other bodies for the repair and conversion of the church. The trust will have to insure and maintain the church during this period, so it has negotiated a break-clause in the lease after five years. This will enable it to relinquish the church if it is unsuccessful in raising funding. The trust will also have the option to buy the church.
Since the spring, the trust has established that its proposals for the use of the church are viable.
The trust has established the likely cost of ownership, short term and long term.
Short term: - insurance, standing charges, rates, repairs and maintenance. These amount to just under £4,000 a year. Therefore the
trust is seeking funding to install temporary services (electricity & water) in the church, so that the building itself may be used to earn
some of the costs.
Long term: When the building is repaired and converted, there will still be costs of ownership to the trust. The main costs are building
up a reserve to pay for maintenance to the spire in twenty or twenty five years; and, again, insurance. The trust has calculated the
overall sum at £ 7,200 in today's prices. This falls within the local market rent for comparable premises.
The prospective tenants, The Well Projects, have applied for grant funding for a feasibleity study to ensure that they would be able to
pay these rents. They are eager to agree the tenancy. Therefore. provided the trust can raise the money to repair the church, its longterm future will be assured.
The trust has raised £ 15,000 towards the estimated cost of £29,000 to commission consultants and prepare the details necessary to
make applications to the Heritage Lottery and other bodies. On the strength of this progress, the trust has started the selection process.
From an initial list of ten architects (8 in North Wales, 2 just over the border) specialising in conservation, a short-list of four architects has been selected. Their submissions will be assessed using a recognised method balancing the quality of the service with the cost. The trust intends to appoint the architects in September.
Please give generously to support the project! Any sum will be gratefully received. Money the trust raises in this way can be used to
attract matchfunding from the Heritage Lottery and Europe, so your donation will be doubled in value.
This was held at the Memorial Hall in Tremadog at 7.00 p.m. on Monday, February 22nd. As usual, it was held as a public meeting. ln addition to the trustees and secretary, 18 people were present.
Gwyn Headley is no longer a trustee as he was unable to attend meetings. Bethan Rees Jones was elected to chair the trustees, Dewi Williams having served since the trust's inception in 1991. He remains a trustee. The other trustees (re-elected unanimously) are Mary Garner, Elsbeth Thomas, Gareth Hughes, Anwen Hughes (al1 of Tremadog) and Valerie Wynne Williams of Pentrefelin.
The trust's activities over the year were summarised. The initial feasibility study into the purchase of Bancroft's shop on the comer of
the square showed that the cost of purchase and repairs would exceed the market value. The vendor informed the trust that the buildings have now been sold to a builder, proposing to turn the shops into dwellings.
The Regeneration Throught Heritage initiative of Business in the Community has seen the trust's proposals for the Tannery, and thinks them eminently feasible. They have urged Gwynedd Council to take a probative stance to persuade the owners to sell the site (to the trust or to another suitable purchaser). The site pollution remains, presenting a problem to any developer.
Saint Mary's Church
The withdrawal of Mr and Mrs Eagle's offer to purchase the church, was reported. The trust outlined the progress on agreeing a lease with the Representative Body of the Church in Wales, having found a suitable tenant. This is the Well Projects .
Val Wooding presented the intentions of The Well Projects with regard to the church. She explained that The Well Projects are qualified, insured Natural Healers, and that the organisation is not affiliated to any religious or political organisation.. Opened by Dafydd Wigley Mp in 1993, their Healing Well in Penygroes offers Healing by donation to all, regardless of belief or social circumstance. The Well Projects has another hall in Pentre felin and the beginnings of a further outlet in Dolgellau. They hope to use St Mary's to create a permanent Centre for Well-Being, letting rooms to Complemenatry Practitioners, and hosting courses on many aspects of healthy and sustainable living for the individual, the community and the planet. These would include The Healing Arts, Ecology, Crafts from the Landscape, Local Historical and Spiritual Sites, etc. They intend that the church and grounds should remain an asset to the community, who will it is hoped used them for community purposes.
A lively discussion followed. The Community Appraisal was suggested as a means of testing residents' support. The meeting was reminded of the findings of the trust's questionnaire delivered to every household in Tremadog in 1996. lt was agreed that the results of the Appraisal would be taken into consideration by the trust if the appraisal is made shortly, but that the trust should not postpone developing its proposals, since the Appraisal has been promised for over a year.
The Accounts, the Chairman's report and the full minutes of the AGM are available on request from the secretary.
The company owning the site went into liquidation in April, after Cyngor Gwynedd recalculated the costs it had incurred in carrying
out Emergency Works on the site, and since, at £ 90,000. The liquidator has put the site on the market. The trustees have written to the vendors requested an Option to purchase, offering £ 10,000 with 12 months to exercise the Option. £ 10,000 is the value obtained by the trust from an independent valuer. The value is low, because of the site pollution, and the costs of repairing two listed buildings.
In April, the trust asked Cyngor Gwynedd to inform the Liquidators of the site contnmination, since this will not appear in the Searches. (The County does not keep a register of polluted sites). The trust stated its concerned that a developer from outside the area might buy the site for development unaware of the contamination, and then be unable to repair the listed buildings because the costs of decontamination for development would make the whole site uneconomic. The trust warned of another possible ten-year delay if the site changes hands without this information.
Unfortunately. the County has not passed the information it holds on the site contamination to the vendors. The site has been marketed as a former tannery, without mention of the subsequent uses as a laundry and a car breakers. We can only hope that purchasers will realise that there may be some problem with the site, since this will not appear on the searches.
The trust's offer (Option) has gone forward to the Liquidator, but it seems likely that it will be lower than other bidders. It looks as though the whole sad saga is about to begin again!
Local Authority Role
There is specific legislation for use with listed buildings. The sequence is Repairs Notice - Repairs in Default - Compulsory Purchase. ln the vast majority of cases, where a Repairs Notice has been served , this has brought about repairs, or a change of ownership to someone who will repair the building. Very few cases go to court. However, the terms of the Repairs Notice do need careful drafting, as only the minimum repairs to avert loss of the building or danger to the public should be included.
Some local authorities use the method repeatedly and successfully, giving out a clear message that a building is listed as of historic
interest to the wider public, and that neglect of such a building is not acceptable. Where neglect has been deliberate, in order to
get rid of a building so that the site may be developed, Compulsory Purchase may be at minimum compensation.
In the case of the Tannery and Fron Haul, the local authority, Dwyfor District Council, decided to use Dangerous Structures and Environmental Health Notices instead. They carries out Emergency Works in 1994, ill default, and these gave rise to the debt now calculated at £ 90,000, to Gwynedd, the successor authority. lt is because Gwynedd is in the position of trying to recoup some or all of this debt that it has tied its own hands regarding its duty to protect two listed buildings within a Conservation Area and to promote their economic re-use.
Cyfeillion Cadw Tremadog has raised funding for feasibility studies; obtained Planning Permission and Listed Building Consent; has an ongoing offer in principle for 50% of the costs of repairs to the historic fabric from Cadw; obtained an offer of over £ 330,000 from ERDF funding for the industrial aspect of its proposals - which lapsed when Gwynedd was unable for over four months to meet the trust to discuss its proposals. Since the trust's inception in 1991, it has stood ready to receive the Tannery site in a "back-to-back'' from the county, so that the county would not have to bear responsibility for ownership. What more does a voluntary group have to do to persuade paid local authority staffto do their statutory duty?