Only days after receiving the news of the HLF grant award (see previous post) for their plans for the Literary and Scientific Institute, Bridport Area Development Trustees were back in the High Court in London to support the case for a further adjournment of a decision on the fate of the building in East Street, which has been empty since it closed as the town’s public library in 1997.
In 2010 Dorset County Council sought guidance from the Court as to its responsibilities and powers to dispose of the building, which had been the subject of a long-running legal case over the trusteeship of the building. At that time the Bridport Area Development Trust was allowed eighteen months in which to develop its plans to restore the building and bring it back into community use.
Early in 2012, noting the significant progress made by the Trust, Dorset County Council agreed to an extension of the eighteen month adjournment to a hearing on 3 December, by which time the outcome of the Trust’s Stage One Heritage Lottery application would be known.
At the 3 December High Court hearing, in the light of the success of the HLF application and match-funding commitments of nearly £1m, the Council’s legal representatives recommended a further extension to enable the Trust to complete its development work and submit a Stage Two and final application to the HLF for the capital costs of restoration. BADT trustees Charles Wild and Diane May, and Crystal Johnson, co-ordinator of the successful Lottery application, were present to answer questions from the Court. The presiding officer, Master Nicolas Bragge, complimented the Trust on its progress, agreeing with the Council’s argument that the Trust’s proposals represented the best hope for the building, and ordered an adjournment until October 2014.