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.