Your support in renovating the building...
...opens up great possibilities for the future. We now own the building - here's what we are doing:
- Operating the building as a community-owned social enterprise which lets out workspace at fair rents
- Conserving the building through a rolling programme of repairs and grant-aided restoration
- Ensuring existing tenants stay, maintaining and creating jobs and offering training in traditional skills
- Attracting more tenants into the renovated areas
- Supporting start-up businesses
- Developing a centre of excellence for traditional crafts and offer training in these skills.
- Offering public access to the Works through open days and training events.
- Developing the heritage potential of the site within the context of a working environment, to enable the public to see 'how things are made' in an active setting.
Our vision for the future...
"...is that Portland Works will be a physically sound, fully-occupied building owned and managed in a democratic way by its tenants and supporters. It will provide affordable workshops and studios for craftspeople and the creative industries and for small business start-ups. The management will be responsive to their needs, fostering opportunities for education and promotion of the heritage values of the Works, along with support for workplace training and apprenticeships. We envisage Portland Works playing an important role as the centre of a hub of similar developments in the neighbourhood of Little Sheffield and beyond."
(Portland Works Business Plan, 2011)
Owning the building
The building has been ours since 28 February 2013, following four years of campaigning and fundraising.
There is much work to be done to bring us even up to the minimum standard, as the building as had years of negelect. And loans and grants take a while to come through. We are seeking loans and grants where possible, to complement the rental income from the existing tenancies. We have also to do statutory work to cover Health and Safety and Fire risk requirements. But as we upgrade the building there will be more workspace to let, increasing our income.
What are the priorities?
We've now completed about half our urgent Health and Safety work - notably stabilising the entrance and portico area, repairing fire alarm systems, fire escapes, upgrading the power supplies and providing some working toilets!
Now our priority is mending the roof, initially doing temporary repairs but ultimately a full-scale renewal. This will enable the building to dry out.
Now we're owners, we can apply for renovation grants, but these take a while to come on stream, so we expect our first two years will be difficult, with conflicting priorities and many calls upon our resources. We have a good group of skilled and experienced volunteers to guide us though, and in our planning we have taken a long view with a clear sense of purpose.
Sheffield architectural practice Studio Polpo have been involved with us for a while. Their report 'Portland Works Futures' is an exciting vision of what could be.
Updated 25 Nov 2013