This was the main project for the Trust in 2019, looking at options for the buildings in the Finzean Old School complex which require a major renovation in order to enable the Trust to make better use of the site. Having raised funding for a feasibility study in 2018, the Trust employed consultants to complete a local consultation and recommend the best way forward for the buildings. We are extremely grateful to everyone who attended the meetings on the Old School and supported the project. While the consultation did not identify one clear option for the site, it identified the need for a flexible site which would include:
- An operating centre for the Trust, including meeting rooms and an informal meeting area which could be used by local groups and people
- Improved access to the BCT archive
- A room (or rooms) which could be used for longer term exhibitions or pop up shops for example, as there is no building in the Birse area that people or organisations can let for a period of say 2-3 months
During the consultation, the team were very careful to ensure that the future uses of the building would not conflict with other local organisations.
The initial consultation identified the cost of renovating the complex at around £700,000 and BCT are currently speaking with potential funders. It is extremely likely given the large potential cost that the Trust will have to adopt a staged project, probably focusing on the Old School building first and then looking at the other parts of the site. The next stage is for the project team to meet with potential funders to see if the funders are going to follow up on their initial supportive statements. It is clear that this will be a long-term project as funding in this area on the scale required is very hard to come by.
In particular, the Trustees would like to thank Sian Loftus for all her hard work, both in securing funding for the feasibility study and also for driving the project forward.