OLD SCHOOL PROJECT
The Old School is a Grade 2 listed building located in the heart of the community of Old Wolverton. Future Wolverton raised over £1.24 million pounds to purchase and refurbish the Old School, and it finally opened for community and education use in May 2019.
There are three social enterprises operating within the Old School building:
• A Community centre, with space to hire
• A Guest House, offering stays to business and leisure visitors to MK
• A Community Café, open weekdays
The enterprises that are based at the building are run by a small staff team, who work alongside Work Placement Trainees. Our trainees come from a variety of backgrounds, but all of them need some extra support on their personal journey to paid employment. The Old School provides a place where they can experience a variety of work tasks, gain skills and qualifications.
One group of work placement trainees comes from Slated Row School, a community special school for children and young people aged 4 to 19. The school caters for 200 + pupils with moderate to complex special educational needs.
The initial partnership with the school helped to lever in grant support and sponsorship, supporting the refurbishment and fitting out of the building. We have gone on to work with The Walnuts School, and from 2021 will be providing work placement opportunities to adults with autism.
Every aspect of the way the building operates – from the cleaning to landscape maintenance – is supported by our work placement trainees. They gain invaluable real work experience, as well as hard qualifications, which put them in a stronger position to secure paid employment.
The Old School is Future Wolverton’s first asset and will generate an ongoing income, enabling the organisation to become financially self-sufficient.
More information about the project can be found at our dedicated project website https://oldschoolwolverton.org/
The development timeline
KEEP AT TOP
DECEMBER 2018 - Contractor returns the keys to Future Wolverton
After a break for Christmas, work began on fitting out the Hall for hire, and the newly recruited Old School staff began work in January 2019.
OCTOBER 2018 - Refurbishment work begins on the Old School Hall
Although the new extension (to house the community cafe) had been built, none of the fitting out work had been done in the first phase. The Community Hall also required extensive work, including new electrics and a new heating system.
Thanks to Lottery funding we were able afford the fitting out of a fully commercial kitchen.
SEPTEMBER 2018 - Milton Keynes Heritage Open Days
AUGUST 2018 - New extension and downstairs wet room
MARCH 2018 - Breaking ground at the Old School
NOVEMBER 2017 - Board agrees a phased plan for works to the Old School
Phase 1 will involve all the works to the Guest House, and the new build construction to the rear of the Hall.
Further funds will be needed to complete works to the Hall, and fundraising efforts are ongoing.
Works should begin in January 2018, subject to securing loan finance for Phase 1 works.
SEPTEMBER 2017 - Contractors invited to tender for works to the Old School
Tenders are due to be returned by the beginning of September 2017, when the Board of Future Wolverton hope to be in a position to appoint the successful contractors.
We hope to be able to start works during October 2017.
AUGUST 2017 - Successful Community Share Issue raises £122,666
We are delighted that so many of our shareholders are local Wolverton people, supporting Wolverton’s first co-operative owned building.
Ethex will be in touch with all those who have invested within the next 4 weeks, and we should be issuing share certificates towards the end of September.
Thank you all again for your massive support.
MARCH 2017 - Community Shares Issue launched!
The Old School is a Grade 2 listed building located in the heart of the community of Old Wolverton.
Future Wolverton will complete purchase on the building at the end of March, and have already secured planning permission to bring it back into use as a Community Centre and Guest House.
The uniqueness of our project is that both the Community Centre and Guest House will be run by young people from Slated Row School. This work experience will allow them to develop work related and independent living skills, broadening the opportunities available to them once they leave school.
To make this a reality we need help from local people to raise £60,000 towards the extensive refurbishment work required.
We are therefore inviting local people to contribute to the project in by buying “community shares” in the project. Community shares are a withdrawable form of investment, which attracts a financial return. You can invest as little as £50 to support the project, and we are hoping to offer a 2% return on any money invested.
Anyone investing in the share offer will automatically become a Future Wolverton Member.
Membership of Future Wolverton obtained through the Old School Community Shares Offer is open to individuals over the age of 16, corporate bodies, and associations who support our objectives and is on a one Member, one vote basis irrespective of size of shareholdings. A minimum shareholding for the community shares offer is £50 and a maximum of £10,000.
Existing members have a shareholding of £1, and anyone wishing to join Future Wolverton after the share offer is closed on the 30th June will revert to a £1 shareholding.
Full details of this Community Share Offer and an application form will be available from the 31st March via the ethical investment platform Ethex https://www.ethex.org.uk/
OCTOBER 2016 - EGM decides to proceed with purchase
Members present voted unanimously in favour of the resolution that Future Wolverton should purchase the Old School in Old Wolverton in order to provide a Community Centre and Guest House facility for the local community.
The Board will now proceed with negotiations over grant and loan funding, with a view to securing purchase by the end of the year – or early next year!
A copy of the minutes of the EGM can be viewed here.
JULY 2016 - Planning permission granted
We are now waiting to hear about applications to several bodies for grants towards the cost of the project, as well as working hard on our Business Plan and developing our partnership with Slated Row School.
We expect to invite members of Future Wolverton to an Extraordinary Meeting in October 2016, as it is our membership who will make the ultimate decision to purchase the building.
MARCH 2016 - Planning application submitted
We shared possible plans for how the building could be refurbished and redeveloped to bring it up to modern standards at a community meeting in October 2014
Since then we have been developing the proposals and they have now been submitted to Milton Keynes Council as a formal planning application, number 16/01418/LBC.
We need to secure planning permission before we go ahead an purchase the building, so the next 8 weeks or so are pretty crucial!
Assuming we are successful in our planning application, we will then hope to secure all the necessary loan and grant income to complete the purchase.
FEBRUARY 2016 - Pre-planning advice sought from Milton Keynes Council
A tree survey has been carried out and draft plans for the refurbishment of the building submitted to Milton Keynes Council as a pre-planning application. A meeting with Council Officers took place in the middle of February, and we are expecting to receive formal advice from the Council in early March. The plans submitted to Milton Keynes Council as part of the pre-application process can be viewed here
Detailed financial modelling work is currently taking place to support the preparation of a Business Plan which is needed to secure loan finance to purchase the site.
Discussions with the Senior Management Team and Governors of Slated Row School continue, with the hope that project can benefit the 6th Form students of the school as well as the wider community.
The building is also being re-valued to inform commercial negotiations with The Radcliffe Trust who own the building.
OCTOBER 2015 - Future Wolverton make “community right to bid”
The Radcliffe Trust have therefore given notice of their intention to sell the building, and Future Wolverton have formally expressed an interest in bidding to buy it.
The “community right to bid” process gives us 6 months – until April 2015 – to establish the business and community case for acquiring the building and bringing it back into use as a community centre for the West end of Wolverton.
We are working closely with Slated Row School and architects Shenstones to develop costed plans for the refurbishment of the building, and are also being assisted in the necessary financial modelling of the project by Co-operative Assistance Network.
SEPTEMBER 2015 - The Old School Garden Clear-up
Future Wolverton have spent the last few years working with partners to identify ways in which the Old School might be brought back into use as a sustainable community asset.
We have been working with an architect to develop plans for the building, and hope to share these plans with the local community and partners at a community event before the end of the year.
History of the project
However, despite the large amount of housing development that has taken place there is a lack of a community meeting place in the Old Wolverton area, and hence a lack of opportunities for people to engage in social and community activities which help build a sense of community.
Until 8 years ago the Old School Hall was in regular use by Holy Trinity Church and the community of Old Wolverton, and provided a much needed local venue for meetings and social activities. In approximately 2004/5 the decision was made to shut the building to community use. Since that time, there has been no formal community meeting place in Old Wolverton.
Future Wolverton believes that the Old School House might provide the solution to the need for a community meeting place in this part of Wolverton, and has been working alongside Church and community representatives and the owners of the building, The Radcliffe Trust, to consider all the options for re-use and refurbishment of this important listed building.
With the support of The Radcliffe Trust, we used new rights introduced under the Localism Act to make a “Community Right to Bid” on the Old School building, and on the 23rd July 2013 Milton Keynes Council made the decision to list the building on their Community Right to Bid register.
This means that The Radcliffe Trust have to give Future Wolverton the opportunity to make an offer for the building before they dispose of it on the open market.
At the end of February, we heard we had been successful in securing a grant of £10,000 to carry our pre-feasibility work including a full structural survey of the building, outline plans for converting it to a community centre, and initial business planning.