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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 09/11/2006
MUSEUM OF FARNHAM GARDEN CLASSROOM



Summary & Purpose
A condition survey of the garden classroom undertaken in 2004 revealed a number of problems relating to the condition of the structure. A significant proportion of the Museum’s educational programme is delivered in the classroom and the facility is also used for holiday activities, the Museum club at weekends, as well as being hired by various external groups. If the Council is to continue to offer such services, the building must be refurbished urgently. As part of the Council’s Asset Management Plan officers submitted a bid for 95,000 to the Capital Programme. This budget has been included in the 2007/8 draft capital programme.

This report also outlines an opportunity for the Council to draw in significant external funding in the region of 415,000 for a larger redevelopment of the classroom into a multi use facility capable of separating into a classroom and exhibition space, as well as combining into a single meeting/lecture area when needed. The additional funding required could be secured from various sources including a major proportion from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). This report provides the detail to this proposal and seeks Member approval for the proposal.

APPENDIX G
Waverley Borough Council

EXECUTIVE – 9TH November 2006

Title:
MUSEUM OF FARNHAM GARDEN CLASSROOM
[Wards Affected: Farnham]

Summary and purpose:

A condition survey of the garden classroom undertaken in 2004 revealed a number of problems relating to the condition of the structure. A significant proportion of the Museum’s educational programme is delivered in the classroom and the facility is also used for holiday activities, the Museum club at weekends, as well as being hired by various external groups. If the Council is to continue to offer such services, the building must be refurbished urgently. As part of the Council’s Asset Management Plan officers submitted a bid for 95,000 to the Capital Programme. This budget has been included in the 2007/8 draft capital programme.

This report also outlines an opportunity for the Council to draw in significant external funding in the region of 415,000 for a larger redevelopment of the classroom into a multi use facility capable of separating into a classroom and exhibition space, as well as combining into a single meeting/lecture area when needed. The additional funding required could be secured from various sources including a major proportion from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). This report provides the detail to this proposal and seeks Member approval for the proposal.

Environmental implications:

The current garden gallery is decaying and leaking, aesthetically it is unattractive and out of keeping with the rest of the surrounding conservation area. The building is also poor in relation to energy efficiency. A new facility could make use of natural resources in its design; it would improve the local environment by providing a more aesthetic building, more in-keeping with its environment. In addition the environmental benefits include:

v use of natural materials
v enhancing the site by replacing an ugly prefab with a building more appropriate to the setting
v fully insulated and fuel efficient facility
v maximising the potential of the site by developing the educational opportunities of the rear garden
v making environmental improvements to the existing garden.

Social / community implications:

The current garden classroom is in a poor state of repair and cannot meet the needs of all groups who would wish to use it. An improved facility would help to attract new audiences and priority would be given to tackling social inclusion through the programming of the new facility and the educational work. A new facility would also provide an opportunity to support local groups and organisations and could provide a venue for local businesses to hire, which would increase the Museum’s capacity to generate revenue. As a runner up in The Guardian’s National Family Friendly Museums Award this facility will increase the facilities available to families in particular. In addition the social benefits include:


v providing affordable space for community groups to meet or hire for exhibitions and events
v filling a gap in Adult Education provision in the community
v working with day centres and retirement homes to provide an outreach programme
v provide training for volunteers such as NADFAS, Friends of the Museum etc.
v encourage FDMS to return to museum premises for meetings, events and lecture programme
v working with disadvantaged youth groups
v working with adults with learning difficulties by establishing heritage projects lasting several months at a time
v providing more space to cater for a wider range of family activities
v providing greater accessibility to the museum collection, especially for the disabled.

E-Government implications:

There are no e-government implications arising from this report.

Resource and legal implications:

The main resource implications arising from this report will be dealt with in the body of this report. The economic benefits of the proposal include:

v increased use of premises outside opening hours
v opportunity for hiring for private or corporate functions
v stimulating local business by showcasing a local firm for the supply and construction of an innovative gallery design
v extending the services that are available to tourists from outside the area, and to Farnham visitors
v providing an opportunity to generate income for the museum and increase its sustainability.

Background

1. The garden classroom is a single-storey, L shaped structure located in the rear garden of the Museum at a distance of 20m from the main house. It is a flat-roofed, prefabricated building with a concrete floor and thin, barely insulated wooden walls. It was built in the 1960’s and was initially used as an exhibition space to display farm vehicles, which were later relocated to the Rural Life Centre in Tilford. Today, the classroom is used extensively by the Museum as a venue for its education sessions with schools visiting from all over the region. The classroom provides the only space within the museum which can accommodate a whole class of children, which is vital in delivering the schools programme. The facility is also used by the Museum Club at the weekends, is used for public lectures and fund raising events organised by the Friends of the Museum, provides a venue for exhibitions during the summer holidays and is used on an ad-hoc basis by local groups as a meeting venue.

2. The space provides an accessible multi use area, which can accommodate up to 40 people seated. However, the roof is leaking, the exterior facia requires redecoration, the windows are rotted in parts, the heating and ventilation system is very poor with limited heating in the winter and no mechanical ventilation in summer. Rewiring is required to provide new circuits for lighting and power. There are no toilet facilities in the building, which means that when schools visit, the children need to walk back up to the main house to use the toilet and in poor weather conditions this is not ideal. There are no washing facilities, which preclude a number of activities from taking place in the building such as arts activities or the preparation of tea/coffee for meetings. To the rear of the building is an area of vacant land that is overgrown and untended with a dilapidated greenhouse. This area is not used at present but has the potential as a valuable teaching resource.

The Proposal

3. As the classroom urgently needs refurbishment there is an opportunity, if the Council choose to take it, to secure significant external funding to support the proposal to redevelop the garden classroom into a multi use facility which would not only improve on the current facilities but could assist in attracting new audiences and developing/extending the current education programme. A wide range of additional activities could be developed which would open the Museum up to a large number of new users. The proposed multi use facility would provide a separate education room and exhibition/display room, which could be combined for larger activities/events or used by two different groups at the same time. The facility would also include toilet/wash facilities and a small kitchen area. The garden area at the back of the facility could also be brought back into use and provide an area of garden which could be used for educational purposes.

Aims

4. The aim of redeveloping the facility would be to expand the Museums education and community programme to enable more people to participate and benefit from their local heritage. A list of potential new users and programmed activities is attached in Annexe 1 to this report.

Objectives

v To improve access to the Museum by providing additional ground floor accessible gallery and education rooms – currently the first floor exhibition space is not accessible to those people with mobility difficulties
v To expand the schools programme and facilities for people with disabilities by providing an accessible classroom, support facilities and heritage resources- currently there is little space available in which people with disabilities or families can make use the discovery boxes which limits the Museum’s capacity to open up the collections in this way.
v To expand the Museum’s local history service by running a programme of local history courses and lectures – currently classes and lectures are held elsewhere as affiliated schools have priority on the space. A new dual space could provide a venue for both schools and courses for adults at the same time
v To increase the range and number of accessible exhibitions and displays by providing an accessible gallery which can display work throughout the year
v To support the Museums existing volunteers and increase the number of new volunteers and provide training opportunities– currently the Museum Society meets in other premises, as their meetings are too big to be accommodated in the Museum, this is detrimental to the development of the volunteer base
v To increase space for the safe and effective storage of the Museum’s equipment and teaching collections
v To serve the wider community by providing an accessible community space for local organisations- the Museum is often approached by local groups looking for affordable meeting space

Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

5. Following early discussions the HLF indicated that this project would meet their criteria for funding and that if successful they could fund up to 60% of the total costs. The HLF will not fund refurbishment costs but will support new developments that can demonstrate an opportunity to increase community involvement and reach new audiences. The Fund will also support a built development, such as this project, with revenue funding for a temporary staff post to establish links with new audiences.

6. The application process to the HLF is either in the form of a full bid or a two-stage bid. Given that this scheme has potential to attract significant external funding, in March of this year officers prepared and submitted a tentative Stage 1 bid to test whether the proposal would be eligible for funding. The HLF has now assessed the application and has decided to award a Stage 1 pass. In addition, the HLF has decided to offer a development grant to fund the development of the project to Stage 2, if the Council wish to proceed. Having been successful at Stage 1 it is usual that the funding is ring fenced until the second stage has been assessed.

Resource and legal implications:

7. The condition survey of the existing structure highlighted a number of issues which require rectification if the building is to continue to be used by the public. The estimated costs for a basic refurbishment total approximately 95,000. A budget sum of 95,000 has therefore been included in the 2007/8 draft capital programme to meet these costs. Based on an outline specification, estimates for a new and much improved facility would be in the region of 390,000 including professional fees, fixtures and fittings. The HLF has also agreed to fund a two-year part-time development officer post to develop the service into new areas, increase community involvement and broaden access. These revenue costs total approximately 45,000. Allowing for contingencies and inflation the project costs will total 510,000. A full breakdown of the project costs is given in Annexe 2 to this report.

8. If the facility is redeveloped there will be an improvement to the Museum’s revenue position as it is anticipated that income will be generated through lettings of the facility.

9. In addition to the Council’s contribution of 95,000 and 59% funding from the HLF, the remaining funds, approximately 114,000, could be sought from a number of other external sources. The Farnham Building Preservation Trust (FBPT) has informed officers that it would be willing to consider applications for funding from suitable schemes within Farnham locality and that this scheme may be eligible for funding. Early discussions with the Trust have been positive and they have indicated that they would consider an application to the Trust for this project. Other funding sources that would be approached would include Farnham Town Council, South East Museum, Library and Archive Council (SEMLAC), various Charitable Trusts with an interest in heritage and education, SITA and Onyx as well as fund raising through the Friends and Museum Society.

10. If successful, the cost of providing a new improved facility, which would attract greater audiences to the Museum and provide a valuable asset to the town, could be funded in the main from external sources with the Council contributing 19% of the total project costs. Officers are of the view that this project would bring significant added value and that the current window of opportunity is very narrow. To delay the project would undoubtedly result in loss of HLF funding as from 2008 it is likely that a substantial proportion of lottery funding will be redirected to the 2012 Olympics and away from projects such as this.

11. Working up a Stage 2 HLF application would require some funding to cover the cost of professional fees associated with producing the basic designs and plans to support the application. The professional fees are estimated to be in the region of 16,000 and as part of the Stage 1 application the HLF have agreed to pay 11,600 to cover the costs of these development fees. The detailed breakdown of the development costs and partnership funding is set out in Annexe 3 to this report. The remaining 4,400 of development costs would be made up of officer time allocation and voluntary assistance as non-cash contributions to the project development work.

Summary of Financial Implications

Option A
Refurbishment
Option B
Renewal
Cost of refurbishment identified by the current condition report95,000
Estimated cost of renewal with improved facility (inc professional fees)391,000
Activity Costs associated with the proposal45,000
Other costs – contingency and inflation73,000
Total costs
95,000509,000
Possible contribution towards renewal costs from Heritage Lottery Fund at 59%300,000
Possible contributions from other sources Up to 114,000
Total Cost to Waverley Borough Council95,00095,000

12. A detailed breakdown of the estimated costs are included in Annexe 1 to this report.

13. Any scheme would require planning permission and listed building consent as it is located within the curtilage of an existing Grade I listed building. The Council’s Historic Buildings Officer has been engaged in early discussions regarding the refurbishment and possible redevelopment. English Heritage has also been consulted and is satisfied that the proposal would meet their requirements.

Process/Timetable

14. If members agree to officers progressing the scheme the following timetable would be pursued.

TIMETABLE HLF APPLICATION
Stage 1 HLF application confirmed as successful
    Stage 2 HLF application completed / submitted

    HLF Board determines application

    If successful start on site

    Appointment of P/T Education officer

    Building Completed

    Education programme Initiated
    September 2006


    February 2007


    June 2007

    September 2007

    September 2007


    December 2007

    January 2008


    Conclusion

    15. There is an urgent need for the Council to fund the capital costs of refurbishing the Museum’s garden classroom if it is to remain in operation. This facility provides an essential space within the Museum in which a number of activities take place on an almost daily basis. The loss of this space would be detrimental and would result in lost audiences especially the schools programme.

    16. There is a window of opportunity for the Council to secure external funding to support the proposal to re-build and develop a multi use classroom and gallery space with associated facilities which will not cost the Council any more than the cost of the basic refurbishment. This new facility will provide space for a much wider range of community activity, which will increase the range of users and visitors to the Museum a key statutory best value performance indicator for the Council. There is a clear indication that a major part of the funding (59%) could be secured as the HLF have accepted a Stage 1 application.

    Recommendation

    The Executive is recommended to

    Background Papers (DoEL)

    Stage 1 Application to Heritage Lottery Fund and supporting papers.

    CONTACT OFFICER:

    Name: Julie Maskery Telephone: 01483 523432
    E-mail: jmaskery@waverley.gov.uk


    Comms/exec/2006/07/180