THE FUTURE of an iconic building in the midst of a major regeneration will be shaped today.

Work is well underway to restore the Bridport Literary and Scientific Institute (LSI) on East Street so that it can continue as a ‘community asset.’

The Bridport Area Development Trust, which is behind the project in the hope that it will bring the town’s history back to life, has put forward a request for a loan for up to £37,400 from West Dorset District Council (WDDC) to help see it through its first year. 

The council’s strategy committee will consider the request at a meeting being held today.

The loan will act as gap funding for the period between January 2018 and May 2019 towards the first year of operation for the LSI, and has been requested due to funds being held back by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The HLF awarded the LSI with a grant of £1,421,500 in 2015, which includes £46k revenue contribution towards operating costs for the institute’s first year upon opening.

It is common practice for the HLF to withhold 10 per cent of grants awarded for projects until the end of first year of operation, and so the LSI is turning to the council to plug the gap in the meantime.

A report set to go before councillors today explains that the district council has supported the project from the outset because it ‘helps to safeguard an important listed building that was unused and ‘at risk’ and in future will provide a valuable resource to support the local economy.’

It also states that the loan is to be repaid to the district council regardless of whether the LSI receives any grant from the HLF in the future. 

The Grade 2* listed LSI – the former home of Bridport Library – had stood empty since 1997 and was placed on the National Buildings at Risk Register in 2002.

The project seeks to completely restore the building and improve its facilities to ensure that it is fully accessible for everyone.

Once completed, it will provide permanent, temporary and drop-in working facilities as well as an event space, training facility, meeting space and café.

A training and education room will house touchscreen and AV facilities and seats for up to 30 people in a lecture-style environment.

A covered courtyard and café will be open to all members of the public.

Work has been delayed at the site due to ‘complications due to the complexity of the works taking place.’ 

The trust is hoping to reopen the institute in January.