After more than 6 years of planning, Bridport Area Development Trust is about to start work on the restoration of the Literary and Scientific Institute building in East Street. The Grade 2* listed building in East Street has been empty since 1997 and is currently on the national At Risk register.
A £2m building contract has been awarded to RG Spiller of Chard after a formal tendering process and the Trust is scheduled to grant possession of the site to the contractor on the 22nd August. It is estimated that the restoration work will span a year with the LSI building complete and ready for business in the Autumn of 2017.
Mike Carter, Chair of the LSI working group said “Access to the building to carry out the refurbishment is very limited due to the restricted nature of the site. We have reached an agreement with Highways and the Town Council to close the pavement outside the building and a portion of the local car parking on the South side of the road to allow for a contractor’s compound outside the building and to ensure that two-way traffic is maintained in East Street. Pedestrian access will remain open to all premises along the street.”
The appointment of the contractor signals the Trust’s success in securing the final funding for the capital phase of restoration work which has been achieved with the help and support of HLF and Historic England who together have underpinned the valued contributions of other Trust organisations and stakeholders.
Whilst the construction work takes place, the Trust will move forward to assemble an operational management committee to run the building. When reopened the building will include training, meeting and flexible workspace to meet the needs of new and existing small businesses in the area and the local community. A café will cater for users of the building and be open to the public.
Alongside the building work a programme of activities will explore the history of the building. Activities Coordinator Crystal Johnson said, “It is incredibly exciting that, at last, this really important building is being saved. Its purpose has always been to support the growth and prosperity of the town and provide amenity for its residents. Its new use will reflect its original aims and safeguard it for the people of Bridport in the future.”
“We have developed a programme of events and activities that we hope will help us understand more about the building and celebrate its heritage significance. We have just appointed an Oral History coordinator to record local memories about the building and would love to hear from anyone who would be willing to share their stories – it might be a small snippet of information or a more detailed recount of something that happened at the building.”
If you have a story to share, would like to get involved or simply join our mailing list for progress updates, please contact Crystal Johnson: firstname.lastname@example.org