In 2014 the people of Oban had a vision. In 2020, with your help, that vision will become a reality!
News update - offline and online shares sold now at £200,150!
After 4 years of campaigning and planning the old school building in the centre of Oban is ready to become the Rockfield Centre - a community business which will be run by the local community, for the benefit of locals and visitors alike. It will become the heart of our creative community.
It will provide a hugely important focus for cultural activity in Oban and the surrounding area.
This is the dream we shared with our architects Page and Park:
"The Rockfield Centre, Oban is a creative hub full of character. It is a place to come and work, share ideas, learn, chat, socialise, eat, drink, perform, think, exhibit and be inspired amongst other things! It is an inclusive place attractive to the whole community as well as visitors through its historic character and charm deep-rooted within the history of the town and through the energy and buzz of the people who now use the former school building."
What we'll be doing
The Community Huts are already successful as a focus for creative activity, providing activities across the four themes identified by our communities for The Rockfield Centre:
Arts & Culture
We've already hosted exhibitions, workshops, theatre, music, art and photography events. The main building will allow this programme to expand, to showcase local talents, to attract visiting artists and musicians, to allow young and old to experience cultural activity on their doorstep! There will be space for artists and crafters to create and sell their wares however messy they may be!
"I've met such lovely people here; it's been a great experience"
History and Heritage
The building is part of Oban's history. Oban School Board commissioned Rockfield School as its first Board School in 1873. After serving the children of Oban for over a hundred years we will give the building a new purpose to discover and tell the story of Oban, using our talented volunteers to create an archive of oral history recordings for future generations. There will be research space, exhibitions, workshops and conferences with something for locals and visitors alike, including a play museum to keep the kids happy on the odd wet day in Oban.
“This project serves several functions: (a) it provides a vital centre for community activities in a central position within Oban town and these will promote social cohesion; (b) it provides a focus for all-weather tourist attractions that will help to foster future prosperity; (c) crucially, it preserves one of the historic granodiorite buildings that give Oban its character and, hence, its attraction as both a tourist destination and a centre for in-migration of residents. In short, we need the functionality and the visual heritage provided by this building.”
Enterprise & Education
Oban is becoming a University town. We will share our space to support new learning opportunities and enterprise acitvity. Our doors will open new opportunities to grow and thrive. We've already worked with Glasgow School of Art to allow pupils to create and improve their portolios without the 200 mile round trip to Glasgow. There will be coworking space available for those needing desk space and office facilities whether just passing through the town or feeling isolated in their own homes.
"A place like this will be transformational "
We will provide a meeting place which can be a haven of tranquility or a hub of activity. Oban does not have a community centre. Our space will open the door to allow all ages to socialise and reduce isolation. At all times there will be a welcome. We are already supporting new and existing voluntary group activity and this will increase with the move of the North Argyll Carers Centre to the main building.
"Our group members identified The Rockfield Centre as the place to meet. They have a sense of ownership and belonging"
As well as enormous social benefit there is a huge economic benefit to everyone in the area – more destination activities in a centre of excellence for Oban equates to more visitor stay and spend in our town all round – more bed space, meals, food and other visitor attractions engaged in. It’s a win, win for everyone.
A huge effort and a great deal of energy and resourcefulness from the community have not only ensured that the asset has been saved for future generations but it has also created an unstoppable momentum to realise the potential of this unique opportunity.
Members will have a crucial role in promoting The Rockfield Centre when it opens as ‘marketing ambassadors’ through word of mouth, and supporters of the project as well as regular consumers.
All being well, building work will start later this year, with the grand opening in 2020.
The main building renovation project is projected to cost £3 million, and we've already raised £1.8M. We've got some further grant applications in already and we're hopeful we'll secure the funding needed, meaning that we'll be £300,000 short of what we need to finish the job. And this is where you come in!
Shares are worth £1 each, with the minimum investment £250, and the maximum is £30,000. Every investor will get:
- their name on the wall of the re-opened Rockfield Centre
- 30% tax relief if they pay UK income tax (we have applied for advance assurance from
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) so that the shares in The Rockfield Centre are eligible
for 30% tax relief under Social Investment tax relief (SITR), a government-backed scheme
designed to encourage investment in organisations working in the ‘social sector' like Oban Communities Trust
- A vote at the AGM and the chance to stand for election to the board that runs the Centre
What we need to raise
We need to raise at least £100,000, but if we don't raise any more than that, we can go ahead as we have agreement in principle to get a loan to finish the project.
We want to minimise the amount of debt we take on, because we want to pay our local supporters interest rather than a financial institution, as that takes money out of the local area, which isn't the way we want the Centre to operate - this is all about putting things back into Oban.
So, the ideal target we want to raise is £300,000, but we can raise up to £500,000 in this share issue.
Who's behind this plan?
Oban Communities Trust is a charitable Community Benefit Society created in 2014 to campaign for ownership of the former Rockfield School building on behalf of the wider community. After producing our first business plan in 2015, the Trust purchased The Rockfield Centre site from Argyll and Bute council.
We stabilised the main building and refurbished the former classroom huts. This has meant that activity on the site has started which is already demonstrating need and is becoming a destination where people of all ages and backgrounds can meet - over 23,000 people have attended events held at the Centre in the last 3 years.
Enthusiastic volunteers and local trades have supported us to stabilise the Main Building, whilst the former playground has been established as a commercial car park. The Huts and car park provide a regular income stream which helps fund the development of the Main building and the energy and resourcefulness of the Trust has already raised £1.8 million from a range of grant providers.
What are Community Shares?
Community shares are withdrawable shares that cannot be sold, traded or transferred between Members, unlike shares in a typical company. All Members are entitled to one vote – regardless of how many shares they hold.
Members can be paid interest on their shares if the Board believe it would be sensible to do so, and can also withdraw their shareholding (in effect, have it bought back by the society), along with any interest paid at the discretion of the Board.
Investors may be able to claim 30% tax relief on their shares, provided they are eligible UK income taxpayers. (Awaiting advance assurance from HMRC under the Social Investment Tax Relief Scheme)
Please see the SITR update on our website for the latest position on the above as we may not apply the scheme even if we receive advance assurance.
The rights and responsibilities of members are detailed in the Share Offer Document and the Rules of the Society, which you are advised to read before committing to invest. You can also read the society's Business Plan.
Go to www.therockfieldcentre.org.uk/invest to read the Share Offer Prospectus and our Business Plan and SITR update letter.
The Community Shares Standard Mark is awarded by the Community Shares Unit to offers that meet national standards of good practice. For more information about community shares, the Community Shares Standard Mark and the Community Shares Unit go to www.communityshares.org.uk