This whole project would be less than a twinkle in the eye without the involvement of Rob Howie-Smith – a fact unfortunately missing from the article below. Rob lending his kind support and deep experience of urban regeneration and is the one who has signed the lease. Thanks Rob.
A COMMUNITY has been handed the keys to a derelict pub to give it a new lease of life.
Carly Williams and Martin Sommerville – who help to run the St Ann’s Community Garden – have been given the former Beacon pub, in Bluebell Hill Road, St Ann’s, for a minimum of nine months to use in the community’s interest.
Thinking big: Richard Pearson, left, Carly Williams and Martin Sommerville outside the former pub.
The pub, which has been closed for around ten years, is owned by a private individual, but now people are being asked for suggestions about what to do with the site.
An event to kick-start the regeneration of the derelict building is to take place on Saturday, August 17, from 11am to 5pm.
Mr Sommerville is one of the people leading the project and also helps with a variety of local community groups. He said: “For years we’ve been walking past the derelict pub – it’s not been a pub for around 10 years and it’s gradually falling to rack and ruin.
“We’ve dreamed of what it could be if it was given a chance. We thought it could be a gallery or a skate park or anything. A lot of these things could happen.
“The call is going out to local people to see what they want to do with the place.” He added: “It’s possibly earmarked for development afterwards but it could be left as a community space – and we need to see whether we can make it work and whether people want to use it.
“It’s much better than being used for drugs or whatever else. We see old buildings everywhere – they are littering the city.”
The takeover of the building could be just the start of something bigger. Mr Sommerville added: “The plan is to become something like a social enterprise or a charitable organisation. We would be able to rent the space and receive grants but we want it to be a self-sustaining project.
“We want people to get involved – the more ideas, the better and there’s a lot of work to be done.”
Firstly, the group needs volunteers to help clear years of rubbish and growth from the site.
Richard Pearson, who lives in Belle View Court, said: “I think it’s really excellent news for St Ann’s. We’re crying out for community facilities for all age groups and that area has been lacking for a long time. It’s going to be a brilliant thing. I’ll try to get involved.”
Bill Dobson, who lives in nearby Kelverdon Gardens, said: “It’s a very good idea – why let a building go to waste? It’s been a closed down pub for too long and it just attracts crime. It’s a good thing – I’m all for it. It’s somewhere for people to go. It could have a lot of uses – it’s a great idea.”
What would you do with the site? E-mail email@example.com
Article in the Evening Post, by Peter Blackburn