Your support in renovating the building...
...will open up great possibilities for the future. We now own the building - here's what we want to do:
- Operate the building as a community-owned social enterprise which lets out workspace at fair rents.
- Conserve the building through a rolling programme of repairs and grant-aided restoration.
- Ensure existing tenants stay, maintaining and creating jobs and offering training in the traditional trades.
- Attract more tenants into the renovated areas and support start-up businesses.
- Develop a centre of excellence for traditional crafts and offer training in these skills.
- Offer public access to the Works through open days and training events.
- Develop 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."
quote from Portland Works business plan, 2011
This vision is incorporated in our Share Offer, which we encourage you to read.
Owning the building
The building is now ours, since 28 February 2013. But fundraising doesn't stop there. There is much work to be done to bring us up to the minimum standrad, s 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 to do some 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?
Firstly, there's very urgent Health and Safety work to do - notably stabilising the entrance and portico area, repairing fire escapes, upgrading the power supplies and providing some working toilets!
The next priority is mending the roof, initially doing temporary repairs but ultimately a full-scale renewal. This will enable the building to dry out - and for this we need more capital. So fundraising will continue to be a high priority, with no end of possibilities for spending it. But we would like to bring more areas into use, and as areas are renovated, we intend to offer a wider range of workspaces. This will raise our overall rental income and help make the project viable.
Now we've moved to ownership, 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.