Founding father of the Guildford Heritage Discussion board
Burchatts Farm Barn’s future shouldn’t have been determined by the council’s asset managers. The KPMG draft report examined the method for disposing of property and identifies many issues.
However, from a heritage perspective, the large drawback is that the asset administration workforce was allowed to resolve the way forward for neighborhood and heritage buildings.
That they needed to clear their books of unprofitable buildings is comprehensible, however the Govt ought to have taken a broader view.
Certainly, one of many main failings recognized by the draft report is the council’s failure to contemplate its personal “sturdy Asset Administration Technique and Framework that outlines worth to the neighborhood ought to be thought of alongside monetary viability when making selections about the way forward for property”.
The report says, in January 2014, the lead councillor for asset administration set a strategic precedence to enhance the return on property. The Property Overview Group then recognized property that weren’t making a return.
And so it started. One after the other, the council began to choose off heritage buildings across the city. It was very clear to these of us who protested that the Govt didn’t wish to perceive the worth of heritage or wish to take heed to individuals who did.
Even the Guildhall was not immune. Leases have been hiked, stopping its use for arts and charity occasions that might have made it a flagship for the city (see Gordon Bridger’s excellent article in The Dragon).
The massive irony is that the asset administration workforce do glorious work elevating cash for the city by way of investments. Earlier councillors for asset administration have been frequently within the information, not normally business successes.
Some individuals could keep in mind an article on the Odeon was acquired to permit the city to open up the riverside. However this, to my information, was a uncommon article in contrast with the handfuls and dozens of articles and letters about heritage.
Keep in mind the plans to shut Guildford Museum? What in regards to the stunning and unwarranted authorized motion towards the Surrey Archaeological Society? The pointless removing of their library to create a room that’s been virtually constantly empty for 3 years?
The choice to promote West Lodge that might have inevitably led to its demolition by a brand new proprietor? West lodge was claimed to be not very historic, regardless of council-commissioned studies stating it was an “integral half” of a scheduled monument?
Then there was the choice to “privatise” the Chantries Campsite. Fortunately, plans to eliminate the medieval Wanborough Barn have been headed off internally by officers earlier than the problem blew up within the council’s face.
No surprise individuals rallied spherical over Burchatts Farm Barn and thank goodness a report formally recognises what went on. And thank goodness we now have The Guildford Dragon which offers a file of every little thing I’ve simply stated.
On Thursday, on the Governance assembly, Cllr Paul Spooner blamed officers over Burchatts Farn Barn. Some poor practices are certainly embedded within the council nevertheless it was his Govt that railroaded the choices by way of.
The Govt weren’t puppets of the officers. They may have stopped the entire above. They only needed to take heed to the factual arguments and logic of campaigners who addressed them at council conferences.
Of their single-minded dedication to monetise the asset administration’s record of properties, the Govt allowed unacceptable behaviour (eg authorized motion towards a valued charity), to severely injury the status of the council and disgrace our city within the eyes of heritage our bodies and others across the nation.
The current council should take heed to its auditors. There may be an excessive amount of info within the public area for this to be watered down. They need to guarantee this may by no means occur once more.
There have been some glorious feedback on Thursday about creating lists of heritage and neighborhood property throughout the borough in council and personal possession.
However the council should additionally guarantee buildings owned for his or her neighborhood or historic worth are managed by the best individuals. Certainly, it’s unfair to ask the asset administration workforce, charged with maximising earnings, to additionally handle a number of unprofitable, probably time-consuming heritage property.
How the council prevents political events with a majority placing political and private agendas earlier than the pursuits of the city is a extra difficult drawback, however tighter governance over how selections are made is unquestionably wanted.
So the place does that go away us? Fortunately, the injury to heritage was restricted. The council determined to assessment the way forward for the museum however, regardless of a valiant try to spend money on it, the long run now seems to be unsure and desires clarification.
West Lodge survived and the current council is speaking to the neighborhood. Wanborough Barn is protected and was well-attended with guests final Heritage Weekend, regardless of Covid-19.
The way forward for the Chantries Campsite continues to be unsure. The most important tragedy was the lack of the Surrey Archaeological Society, which turned to Guildford Museum from the headquarters of one of the vital lively archaeological our bodies within the nation to an previous constructing with dated shows.
We have to shortly be taught these classes and get on with the job of making certain heritage contributes extra to the city.