Help us save the Totterdown Centre for the Community- one last chance!
Why the urgency?
A large space / it's leases, that are a part of the Totterdown Centre, have been put up for auction on the 27th Feb 2018 and we only have 3 weeks left to save it. After the current owners only having it for 14 weeks they are looking to be taking away the money, negotiated for the community for the regeneration of the centre and have put their leases to auction with no negotiation.
Based on the knowledge and experience we have on the building , it's history and it's current condition we know this is an extremely dangerous move. A move based only on sorting out an 'eye sore' quickly is most definitely, a very firm invitation to the wrong kind of developers getting into a building full of history and future for the community. This could lose us, 'the people' , a space for us, a space where community could mean something again, as it used to here!
If it really is a community minded person, but without knowledge of this building and the management company, then they are being set up and certainly charged more than we know that space to be worth. If we can get time, then it may be that the right people can negotiate for the space, with a much fuller understanding of the larger vision and structures at the Totterdown Centre.
We have tried to create time by re-applying for the building to be an Asset of Community Value and this would mean it couldn't be sold without a period of 6 months where it was offered to community parties. We feel that this could be the best way to create the time needed to get it right for the future of the Totterdown Centre. We need your help to support the application if you think it should be protected as a community asset then let them know, and please apply reminders to the council about the upcoming auction date. The email address is [email protected],uk.
What are the 'real' threats?
It'll be alright won't it, better something happens? NO!
A developer bids at auction and gets the leases, and the 5 shares associated with those leases- the freehold/ the land is worth a lot more money than you might realise. That's a fact. They use their 'lots' of money to buy some more leases from someone (who would like to sell but for much more money then their lease is worth) and take those shares too, and then they use their lots of money to change structures, that we here will not be able to match or continue within,
The building requires a lot of repair work and the management company in charge of the freehold has not been functioning for some time. If this was able to be sorted at once we wouldn't be able to afford to stay here. Someone who could afford to do this all at once, won't be interested if we are here, won't be interested in our strategies, or in regenerating the whole building with and for the community.
They could also sell the freehold, the land and communal spaces that could be community provision. It is where The Healing Courtyard was initiated, and it is these spaces that we openly and clearly planned to utilise for community provision. It was our longer term strategy that these spaces could also create revenue towards the maintenance of the whole Totterdown Centre rather than make huge rises to service charges. Smaller businesses, or enterprises for the community could not afford to be here. There will not be representation of all the people of Totterdown.
They dilute what we do, they make it seem non-viable, they make us feel non-viable, we are surrounded by empty buildings, our businesses and charities start to fail, and they take over. That is how it happens!
Someone/ a group, could buy the the leases/ the space, and have really good intentions but not realise how big a project this is. This is very likely to lead to similar circumstances to where we are now and the building structure, and the possibility of making this some where special for all kinds of people again gets further away. Every time someone sells, they need to cover their cost and the building becomes non-viable to any middle investor/business and only accessible by those wanting to own the freehold for their purposes only.
The building requires immediate work and as a physical and social structure, it cannot have any more stop and starts. It's tired and needs commitment and then it is full of possibilities.
Who are we, and why do we feel we can say anything about anything?
"The peaceful endeavour of the underprivileged to improve their lot by their own efforts, joined together"
We are a collective made of members of the Bristol Women's Workshop, Floriography by Vera Fallacy, and the Healing Courtyard (our first community initiative based at the Totterdown Centre since May 2017), called Totterdown Centre Community Spaces.
We are currently in the process of creating a community interest company, hopefully with that name. In May 2017 we formed the Healing Courtyard with space provided by the Bristol Women's Workshop with the hope of bringing the community back to the centre and showing you what could happen. Our whole intention has always been and continues to be to act as a safeguarding mechanism to protect a diverse community provision within the Totterdown Centre. We intended to uphold Article 4 as per the Totterdown Centre's management companies Articles of Association.
“To promote and take part in projects (whether with a view to profit or not) intended to maintain the community and improve the wellbeing of the people of the Totterdown area of Bristol, including the provision of shops, meeting places, exhibition centre and similar facilities in that area, and the publication and promotion of ideas for, or connected with, its planning and improvements”
Since May 2017 we have been working very hard behind the scenes, as well as encouraging you to use the new community spaces. We have been researching, learning, and breathing the Totterdown Centre to make sure we were realistic and had plans that could make our vision for the Totterdown centre achievable, albeit a lot of work.
We wanted to provide a reality and a constancy in our plans to the community, and we wanted to show you not just tell you. Unfortunately, we have been shoved into a position to have to tell you about us all, about what we have and are doing, because we really need your help right now. You can find out more about who we are as charities, businesses and individuals below and through social media. We also would like to speak to anyone interested in asking more questions and will be as honest as we can be.
What's our plan and what would you be giving your money to?
You'd be giving money to the community project Totterdown Centre Community Spaces, or if we are successful in creating our CIC then the money would be managed by them. The forms went off before Christmas, and it was always our plan to work with a CIC model. This will mean money is regulated and is of community interest. It will allow us alongside multiple self funding methods, access to a range of funding and networks that will support the longer term vision.
The money raised will be going to the community provision within the Totterdown Centre. If we were able to raise £180,000 we would bid for the leases that are up for auction, to ensure it's protection in the short term and to provide time to find either the right purchasers or investors. We would hope that together, with the support we have, we will be able to negotiate a sell with the current owners and use the remaining funds for the essential repairs, regulations and maintenance required, as well as initial costs that would be occurred in service charges and repairs of the overall building and functioning of the management company.
What if we raise a lot of money but not enough to bid or buy it?
If we raise funds but are not able to secure the money to negotiate and or bid with the sellers then we would use this money to repair and develop a large appropriate, community space/s in 138 that could be rented from Bristol Women's Workshop as community space by the CIC, 138 requires a significant amount of work and is need of urgent repair and maintenance. It is an ideal space for a community hub.
We will need your support with this part of the building as part of the strategy, and it is key to moving the whole centre forward. It was our plan to fund-raise and use funding to secure this space first, but we have had to put that on hold due to the auction and urgent repairs required. Significant funds would enable us to get those spaces running again.
It is important that anyone buying into the Totterdown Centre seeks knowledge from us about 138, it's history and it's present state, and it's impact upon the whole building and the management company. We would be very transparent about how that money would be spent, we will involve the community in how it is spent, we hope to be regulated by the CIC model, and would give opportunity for there to be specified ways large investments could be spent or if not returned.
What would we do if we did secure the space up for auction?
In two months of purchase, we aim to have sold the lease of 144. We will have separated off 144 from 142, and make sure it can act as a separate unit. We would make immediate repairs needed, and get the space to community regulation standards. We would then aim to sell this space to a community interested party.
This would provide a much more attractive and manageable investment for a community interested party. It would enable diversity within the Totterdown Centre and for the community. It would also return us funds ,that we could use for the creating and running of the 142 spaces, and work on 138 that would enable us to be working on more space for the community, and the regeneration of the Totterdown Centre as an Asset of Community Value.
We would use the small gallery space in 142 as a Voice Gallery- an expression booth. It would be a space used by all of us in the Totterdown Centre and the community to interact. It could be an advice session, an art exhibition, a pop up feedback booth. It will change to reflect the progression with the building, the difficulties, the positives. It will be where we get you to tell us what this places means to you. This will be a small, affordable 'expression' space that can be hired by members of the community for a range of pop/ ups.
142 front large space would be a multi use/ movement/ workshop. The rear space of 142 would be the HEALING space. I would very be interested in sharing these plans in more detai, if you are a genuinely interested investor.
We would continue to work on securing the freehold space for the CIC to use for activities and provisions for the community, as well as working on 138 Wells Road indoor provisions.
Which space is up for auction, and who is already based at the Totterdown Centre?
The Totterdown Centre is 138-144 Wells Road and it is meant to be a diverse mix of community provision for profit and not for profit.
The part for auction includes the two prominent shop fronts at 142-144 Wells Road. These spaces are directly connected to the spaces occupied by Bristol Women's Workshop who have been here since the late 70's and intend to be here for the long term future, Floriography who came to be here in 2017 to bring a community back here, and Totterdown Centre Community Spaces, which includes the Healing Courtyard (142-144 rear and first floor), and some residents. The buildings are mainly shared leases which means you have to work very closely with your neighbours. It is made for a community building/ hub/ centre by it's very structure. It includes 4 shop fronts on Wells Road, and a large space to the rear.
The property is divided by leases, which are owned by several people. These people are directors of Totterdown Centre and form the management company. A Director's vote within the company is based on the number of shares that they have in the building (which are allocated by square foot owned). There are 21 shares in total. There are 5 current shareholders, and 4 directors; including Bristol Women’s Workshop – Anne Harding and myself.
In its early years, the building was a department store (Harris & Tozer), and later (when it became Totterdown Centre) a vibrant hub of community enterprise, that included a vegetarian cafe, bakery & scoop shop, along with Bristol Women's Workshop and Totterdown Children's Workshop
The Totterdown Centre should be a community asset, with community values at its core. After the demolition of large parts of Totterdown during the early 70's, the people were promised land for a community centre, which was never built. Yet the Totterdown Centre building stands right next to this empty grass land, just waiting for the opportunity to thrive. It needs like-minded people to come together to coordinate and steer its future; to bring it back to the community and to be of value to the people.
PLEASE COME TO US WITH QUESTIONS, IT'S COMPLEX BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE.
Bristol Women's Workshop Charity
Founded in 1980, providing practical skills for women.
Running courses throughout the week, and intensive courses on weekends for women to learn joinery skills using traditional hand tools. Anne Harding is the founder of Bristol Women's Workshop.
Floriography by Vera Fallacy
An independent enterprise, located in the Flower Cellar at The Healing Courtyard.
Selling flowers, plants, essential oils, natural soaps, cards, local art & craft; as well as running workshops and events. Vera is the founder of Floriography & The Healing Courtyard.
The Healing Courtyard
Floriography by Vera & The Healing Courtyard
A community space and healing garden provided by Bristol Women's Workshop and managed by Floriography. Hosting a regular pop-up cafe & suppers from Fanny Tingle, weekly 'Healing in the Tent' sessions (massage, reflexology etc), storytelling nights, & a range of open community events with 'healing' at their core (including arts, education & learning, opportunities to get together).