ecolocal
Update on Plans for the Lodge

Feb 2017 Update

The charity formally applied for development funding via a leading social Bank who have agreed to provide development finance of up to £2.25m. As at February 2017 we are in the process of finalising the legal side of the project, which is very complex, and are midway through detailed design. The loan finance will cover the cost of planned building works and related professional services and the initial purchase of the asset from Sutton Council. Detailed design and subsequent building works will take approximately 14 months to complete.

We produced a pdf with more details on the Lodge, explaining how the project came about and what we've been doing (also downloadable as a word doc here). (Updated last Nov)

Thank you

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the many hundreds of residents and local organisations who have shown their support for our proposals to keep The Lodge in community use. Your support has continued over the summer of 2016 and into 2017 and we are amazed at how many people are enthusiastically asking how plans are progressing. Thank you again for your continued and valued support.

Last year we asked for views on our proposals for The Lodge. We were delighted to have received so much positive feedback with 97% of the 699 residents completing our detailed questionnaire supporting our proposal, and over 60 local groups interested in using the community facilities we intend to develop.

Our proposals have been developed entirely by local residents in consultation with other local residents – EcoLocal is a non-political community run charity and the people involved are from a wide variety of backgrounds with varying interests and views.

People are genuinely keen to see important local buildings maintained and used by the community, for the benefit of the community. Our consultation shows that residents do not want to see community owned assets sold off for private development if beneficial, practical and financially sustainable community use can clearly be demonstrated.

We are aware that there has been some press coverage regarding our proposal. Whilst there are a number of very supportive and correct comments, some of the comments appear to be based on a misunderstanding of the nature and purpose of the scheme being proposed and imply improper bias. This is both ridiculous and disappointing given the fact that so many residents and community groups stand to benefit in a variety of different ways and that the community benefits of the proposal have been laid before Council members in such a detailed and public way.

It is important to clarify that the Council is responding to a proposal developed by residents. We are asking that this ‘asset (The Lodge)’ be transferred from one body established for the benefit of the community (The Council) to another body established for the benefit of the community (The Charity – EcoLocal). There is no conflict of interest and there is plenty of legal precedent for ‘asset transfers’ with over three quarters of Councils across the Country having done so. Indeed, this has happened before in Sutton, for example, with premises used by MENCAP in Wallington being transferred to that charity at below full cash value but in lieu of community benefit provided for the long term. Which is great.

We would like to thank Sutton Council for supporting our plans, and we will maintain our efforts to progress the next steps of the project successfully.

Background

The area around Carshalton Ponds remains one of the most distinctive and picturesque parts of suburban London. It is home to a number of historical buildings, one of which is called The Lodge, which is situated within the grounds of The Ecology Centre, in a Site of Interest for Nature Conservation. Sutton Council no longer has use for The Lodge and has been carefully considering how to dispose of it.

The Lodge was originally built around 1783, and was largely updated in the mid 1800's. It offers an excellent space in a unique setting that residents would like to see used for community, charity and social enterprise use.

Back in 2011, EcoLocal first started discussions on ideas for the buildings future use. Our ideas were well supported by residents. In 2013 we started work on an initial feasibility study which was completed in the Summer of 2014. This was well received by Sutton Council who then asked us to carry out further detailed costings and business planning as well as consultation with residents and community groups.

We have invested a significant amount of the charities own funds as well as a large amount of both staff and volunteer time in developing our proposal. We are very grateful to all those who have been involved - both internally and externally - and would like to thank Sutton Council for being straight forward and easy to work with.

Our Proposal

EcoLocal wants to rejuvenate and revive The Lodge to create a thriving focal point for the local community in Carshalton for years to come. We are proposing to renovate the existing buildings and carry out a mixed use development that includes:

o Community Hall and Kitchen

o Rejuvenated Victorian Walled Garden

o Straw Bale Classroom Suite (replacing the old pre-fab building at the front)

o Office & Meetings Centre Hub to support community enterprise

o Workshop facilities in the old stables / outbuildings

o Storage for local groups and projects

The scheme has to be financially sustainable. So, in sympathy with location and building, we plan to develop 9 flats. 7 will be sold to cover development costs and 2 rented on an on-going basis to generate income to cover facilities management costs.

Works will be carried out sustainably and sensitively to enhance and preserve the key characteristics of The Lodge and its outbuildings. We have consulted local heritage experts both in the community and Council (one member of our project team has recently been a heritage advisor to the Council). None of the planned works will raise heritage problems or archeological issues. Works will be carried out in three phases, with phase 1 and 2 being completed initially and phase 3 improvements being completed as additional funds are raised within a planned timescale.

Benefits to the local community

In calculating our economic, social and environmental value (triple bottom line) to the community we used data from our project management records and surveys as well as recognised proxy values from the following sources: New Economy; London Development Agency; Stern Report on climate change; Cabinet Office; HACT (Housing Associations' Charitable Trust ); Office of National Statistics; Personal Social Services Research Unit; Living Wage; Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens.

We used balanced scorecard tables to present the Social Value Analysis and these were supported by more detailed worksheets for each sub objective, detailing the proxy values, their sources and explanations of the calculations applied and all assumptions made. In our calculations we erred on the side of caution using only fractions of the full proxy values in many cases. We discussed our results in detail with Sutton Council's Head of Strategic Business to ensure its validity.

We concluded that EcoLocal’s Lodge proposal represents a singular opportunity to secure the delivery of a wide range of Sutton's Developmental Assets for the future benefit of the community, calculated to be worth £3.4m per annum.

Why EcoLocal?

EcoLocal is an independent charity run by local people. We have been working on community and sustainability projects in the borough since 1987 and have been based in Carshalton for the last 20 years. EcoLocal has a strong track record of building developmental assets at the community and individual level. The remit of our organisation is very broad and we work with diverse sectors of the community to galvanise the resourcefulness of local people at a community level.

You may have heard of some of the initiatives and social enterprise activities we run from our current offices in Mill Lane, for example the Carshalton Environmental Fair; The Carshalton Frost Fair; Wallington Farmers’ Market; Craft Markets; Carshalton Community Allotment and All Ability Cycling Sessions. See other pages on this website for more information on what we do and links to our other community project specific websites / social media.

For a brief extracted history of the building click here

Illusys