Well, we are NOT a utilities company. The “South” in SouthGen stands for Southwold, a seemingly idyllic Suffolk seaside town. “Gen” is short for regeneration. Millions of visitors come to Southwold each year and many dream of living here. But all is not well in paradise.
Southwold has the highest percentage of second homes in the country – 60% of its 1400 dwellings! This means that its full time population is dwindling and aging. Young people, the life blood of any community, are leaving because housing is unaffordable and most work is low paid and seasonal. On top of that, Southwold's character is changing. High rents and rates are forcing the closure of the independent businesses that contribute so much to its charm. And it's not just businesses that are under threat. At one point, it looked like the town might be losing its cherished library (whose lease was coming to an end) because no landlord in town could offer an affordable rent.
ENTER SouthGen. When the NHS decided to close the Southwold and District Hospital – built by the community, for the community, over 100 years ago -- a group of local people said, “Enough is enough.” They mounted a text book community campaign to prevent its demolition and redevelopment as luxury housing. They partnered with Hastoe Housing Association to buy the land.
To cut a long story short…. on 23rd of March 2018, SouthGen became the FIRST COMMUNITY GROUP IN THE COUNTRY to buy back their old community hospital to recycle it for new community purposes.
Together, SouthGen and Hastoe are now redeveloping and restoring the Old Hospital as a COMMUNITY HUB and NINE AFFORDABLE FLATS AND HOUSES for local people. Hastoe is responsible for the affordable housing.
All of the money that you invest in SouthGen will go towards developing the Old Hospital Hub as a welcoming and beautiful place that EVERYONE -- full time residents, 2nd-homers, and visitors -- can use and love. Take a look at what you will be creating.
Now take a stroll through the Old Hospital Hub to experience how the spaces relate to each other.
So, how are we doing?
The total cost of development is £725,000. In less than a year, we raised a remarkable 66% by winning grants and awards. (Yes, we know that's hard to believe but we really did do this!) This includes matching equity investment of up to £100,000 from Cooperatives UK through an award by Power to Change.
We decided to set a minimum public investment target (not including Cooperatives UK match funding) of £125,000. We hit our minimum in 48 hours! Within 13 days of opening the offer, we hit our stretch target of £250,000 public investment. Now, help us to achieve our super-stretch target of £300,000. The extra money will be spent on high quality detailing in this historic building, extras like a drinking fountain and water-bottle refill station in the front garden, a super-fast electric car charging point, and provide cash flow in the first year of business.
“This is a truly unique project, both in its partnership approach and the range of benefits it will bring." Doug Fields, Chair, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.
Based on our business plan developed with the help of two experienced community shares experts – Gareth Nash and Dave Hollis of CMS Coop – we will be able to pay 4% interest on shares beginning in June 2022.
There is potential generous tax relief for high rate tax payers of between 30-50% of your investment. We’ve written to HMRC to obtain “advance assurance.” Any day now, we should have their answer.
Are you an Adnams fan? The first 150 investors will receive a limited-edition IPA, “Old Hospital Hop,” specially brewed and donated by Adnams, a SouthGen supporter, to celebrate our share launch.
Do you want to be a part of history? For investments of £1000 or more, there will be a plaque inside the Old Hospital Hub with your name.
For investors of £25,000 or more, a room or the garden will be named after someone special to you. There are are only FIVE opportunities for this reward. So far, we have two investments that qualify and already the co-working space has been claimed.
Besides the 9 affordable homes provided by our partners Hastoe Housing Association, we are providing new work, training, learning and socialising opportunities for people of all ages and walks of life. We're not just about doing great things for people -- we are creating an environmentally sustainable building that replaces concrete with wildlife friendly landscaping. Last but not least, we are restoring a beloved community asset and enhancing Southwold's historic character.
If you love Southwold, love what we are doing to help it, if you trust in our passion, commitment, and drive –not to mention our Business Plan available at www.southgen.co.uk! – invest now and become a SouthGen Member. As a SouthGen member, you will own one of Southwold's heritage assets, and you will help to decide how to invest SouthGen's profits to benefit our area.