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Bridport: £400k injection to revive ex-institute
COUNCILS are ready to offer up to £400,000 towards the £2.4million cost of revamping an historic Bridport building Members of West Dorset District Council’s executive have agreed a £100,000 sum for the Literary and Scientific Institute.
The cash will go towards match funding money from the National Lottery if the Bridport Area Develop-ment Trust is successful in a bid.
Dorset County Council has already pledged £300,000 towards the Grade II-listed building in East Street.
A report to the executive committee from council director of environment David Evans says the building has been on English Heritage’s Buildings At Risk Register since 2002.
It says: “There has been uncertainty over the title to the building for a number of years and this has held up decisions on its future.
“The matter was considered by the High Court in autumn, 2010 and they have given the Bridport Area Development Trust (BADT) an 18-month period to raise funds to take over the building.
“In recent months good progress has been made by BADT in developing realistic plans for the refurbishment and future use of the building.
“They have appointed architects and business consultants, funded by a £37,000 grant from English Heritage, to develop building and business plans to form bids for capital funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other sources.
“The main aim of their proposal revolves around using the building to promote and develop the industrial heritage and industrial future of Bridport.”
It adds: “The Heritage Lottery Fund, the main potential source of grant funding for this project, has given BADT encouraging and positive feedback.
“Current estimates for the capital costs for the project are £2.4m. HLF would require a minimum of 10 per cent match funding for any grant application.
“However, case history suggests 40 per cent match funding results in a significantly greater chance of success, 40 per cent in this case, being £960,000.
“BADT are in the process of seeking match funding contributions from a number of sources including the county and district councils, Bridport Town Council, English Heritage, various trusts and foundations and private and commercial benefactors.”
Building a gift from MP
THE building was constructed in 1835 and a ‘gift’ to Bridport from the then MP, Henry Warburton.
It was originally intended as a mechanics institute but became the Bridport Literary and Scientific Institute (LSI) in 1854 to 1855.
Other groups and companies made use of the building afterwards.
The site of the institute was leased to the trustees of the Bridport LSI in 1864 for 1000 years at a pepper-corn rent.
In 1885 the Institute formed a union with the School of Art, which took rooms on the first floor as studios. In 1950, the Institute was finally closed as years of inactivity.
The Minister of Education made an order appointing Dorset County Council trustee of the Institute in place of the existing trustees in 1951 after discussions.
The county council used the building as a public library until 1997.
After the library service vacated the building in 1997, the building was used by various com-munity organisations.
The last tenant was PVA Medialab, which vacated the building in November, 2002.