Church View, the end of the beginning

Things don’t always go the way you plan. Our plan for Church View was well known, a vibrant hub for culture, creativity and the community in an iconic building in central Doncaster. Today, our plan requires a radical rethink.  After almost a year of uncertainty, we can confirm that the European funding needed to complete the building has been lost.  There is a great frustration from all concerned that we could not resolve the issues with the funder, but as our chair says in the press release below, it is time to move on.

So here we are, a building half complete and an horrendous economic climate in which to go back to the drawing board – but a tremendous desire on the part of all those involved to bounce back. There are no miracle cures and there will be no dramatic developments for the forseeable future – but to quote our chair again, we own the building and we aren’t going anywhere.

We will shortly launch The View business zone, a flexible workspace for mobile workers and have other plans which are gaining support with partner organisations.  But we can’t do it all – we never could and now more than ever we want your ideas. Creative business units might have demanded high spec interior design and finishing but creativity doesn’t.  We know that there are people out there who want to make things happen, who just need the space and a supportive partner.  We want to talk to you and we will be hosting a series of events in the near future to begin the conversation.

In the meantime, we think it is fitting to rebrand.  Church View was a beautiful idea, but it already seems to belong to a different age – conceptualised under a previous Government and very different economic circumstances.  Church View is dead, long live The View.

‘Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning’

Our press release is reproduced below.

It was announced today that the original £7.8m Church View project, to transform the former Art College into a business centre for creative and cultural business has had to be abandoned, and a change in direction be developed by DCDT.

Doncaster Central Development Trust today acknowledged that funding to complete the 50,000 square foot former college has been lost.  Work on the project stopped in September 2010, raising concerns that the project had folded

John Giddins, Chair of DCDT said ‘the Church View project is very much still alive but the development will occur over a longer timeframe as we work to complete the building in stages.  It is regrettable that we have not been able to resolve the funding issues with Yorkshire Forward but it is time to move on.

‘We have been in discussions around our European funding bid for £3m for 9 months without achieving a result.  Ultimately, we are another victim of these challenging economic circumstances, as we have been unable to satisfy our funders that we can deliver this project without risk.’

Mr Giddins added, ‘We own the building, on behalf of the community, and we aren’t going anywhere.  In fact, the first Church View development ‘The View Business Zone’ is almost complete and soon will be offering a flexible workspace to freelancers, start-ups and businesses.  It is also available for hire for meetings and events.

‘However, this development is only about 5% of the site and we want to hear from people about what they would like to do here.  If people have a great idea, we certainly have the space’

DCDT plan to host a series of open events in The View Business Zone over the coming weeks to consider new uses for the building.

‘Clearly we have developed the View Business Zone to a high, contemporary standard.  However, we recognize that some activities such as keep fit, yoga, art classes and music rehearsal rooms don’t need high-end interior design.  If people can live with functional but basic accommodation then we can offer attractive rental terms in other parts of this fantastic building’ said Mr Giddins

Details of the open events will be made available shortly.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1 Church View is owned freehold by Doncaster Central Development Trust, the successor body to Doncaster New Deal for Communities.

2 Church View was purchased by DCDT in 2009, following its closure in 2006 after The Hub opened.

3 Church View was originally built in 1913 and forms part of the Minster Conservation Area.

4 Contact John Wright (DCDT) on 0114 360 2004 john.wright@doncastercdt.org for further information.

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