The possible future use of the Bickford-Smith Institute

At June’s Porthleven Town Council meeting, the Institute working group shared with the wider membership of the town council their proposals for the future use of Porthleven’s most iconic building. These proposals have taken into consideration the feedback from the open day with the aim on to how best how to renovate this iconic building.


As you see from the pictures above, this building has a lot of potential. However, due to the sheer scale of money needed which will be in excess of £600k, and may be closer to the £1m mark, the working group have put forward what will be seen as a controversial use. Namely to turn a part of the building into a holiday let. The part which is a proposal to turn into a let is the former caretakers home – which currently home to the town clerk’s office and the council meeting room.

The principle behind this is because whilst some of the money needed to renovate this building will come from grants, not all the money will be found this way. This means the town council may have to take out a loan as part of the project. Of course, this loan has to be paid back, and instead of just adding the repayments to the town council precept ie. the tax payer, the proposal is to turn part of the building into a holiday let to give an income to repay any loan or costs for renovation.


I am not part of the working group, so I have had no input on the direction, but for me the renovation and preservation of the building is paramount. The sheer scale of funding needed has I believe pushed the working group into looking at the holiday let option. The question is, is this the right option?

As I said before, I want the Institute to have a long future, but I am not sold on the idea of turning parts of the building into a holiday let. Holiday lets are a controversial subject in Porthleven. So is it right for the council to turn part of its building into a holiday let? Maybe instead of a holiday let, income could be raised renting it long term? 

However, is the holiday let option the only one that will give enough income to pay for/support the Institute for its renovation?  After all, the majority of the building will still be used for the community. Any idea including holiday let, long term rental or other business use will have to be costed to make sure it stacks up. Only then will there be a firm idea of what works and gives the income needed. 

Furthermore, I was disappointed in the update did not confirm a place for the snooker club, which I believe they should be part of the institutes future. Rather the update said:

“The consultation to date indicates that there is a call for a Snooker Club in Porthleven. The Working Party recommends that consideration be given to the Snooker Club in order to arrive at an amicable solution, with the possibility of relocation being discussed, and further meetings and consultation will be undertaken”.

The important part of all this is the proposals shared at the meeting are not set in stone. There will be a further round of public consultation where people can have a further say. So a lot can and no doubt will change from now and the final plan.


  • Gilly Zella Martin

    I suppose in one way it makes sense to have something with the potential to create an ongoing income, however, would there be complaints from those renting the holiday let, of noise emitted from the community space available in the building? Presumably the community space in the building would generate an ongoing income in itself? I do however think the snooker club should be allowed continued use of the building with some sort of provision.

  • R. Marler

    Presumably this is a holiday let to stay in Council ownership not to be sold?

  • Andrew Wallis

    Yes retained by the Council. Not sold

  • Paul Allen

    Holiday let: If this is the decision to convert part of to use a home, was there no consideration that this could used as a long term let for a local family rather than a holiday let? Holiday lets are not exactly sit back and let that fortune roll in.

    The Snooker Club: It really does seen that there are some people who are determined to get oust the snooker club from the Institute. And appearing to blame the current poor state of the place on them. It’s no good sticking up a few spotlights, if the windows have to be boarded up, the roofs leaking and the launders are blocked and failing. I do not know if they are true villagers and have a feel of how important the club is to us or what their grievance against the club is. In this time that the atmosphere of our village is changing. It is a place for local people. If somebody said they had an idea for a place where all ages of people could mix together socially with a common interest. Bridge the gap between the young and old. In a place where there was no political or religious background and inexpensive. Any right minded person would agree it was a good idea.

  • Maum

    As some of the holiday lets in that location are over a thousand pounds a week at times, I can see the point in the idea of a holiday let. I think it would be hard to choose who should have it if it was used as a long term let for a local, it would also need to be affordable for a local and that wouldn’t bring so much money in long term. There’s obviously some difficult decisions to be made and I think they should be made by the whole council not just a working group.

  • Vivian

    As part of the community centre perhaps, and instead of a holiday let, how about something like an internet cafe coupled with computer training facilities – perhaps even advanced ones such as incorporating computer graphics and publisher packages. Would this be more in keeping with the original purpose and would help local people, especially the older ones, to become computer literate, to make use of computers there, if they can’t afford their own, and also to develop creativity? And maybe a small business school.

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