Committee Agenda Item : Borough Development - 16/09/2003. Item 15
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AGENDA ITEM 15
RUGBY BOROUGH COUNCIL
PANEL or COMMITTEE : Borough Development Panel - 16th September 2003
REPORT TITLE : Rupert Brooke & Warwickshire Literary Heritage Feasibility Study Findings
Contact Officer(s) : Nicky Lister, Tourism Manager
Phone No. 848
Prior Consultation : Interim report to Management Team and Steering Group
Ward Relevance : All Wards
MAIN POINTS :
Following an Advantage West Midlands funded feasibility study the consultant has recommended developing Rupert Brook’s birthplace into a visitor attraction.
ACTION REQUESTED :
That Panel consider the recommendations of the consultant detailed with in the report.
AGENDA ITEM 15
R U G B Y B O R O U G H C O U N C I L
BOROUGH DEVELOPMENT PANEL - 16th September 2003
REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR OF HOUSING AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
RUPERT BROOKE & WARWICKSHIRE LITERARY HERITAGE FEASIBILITY STUDY FINDINGS
Within the Town Centre Action Plan there is an item which calls for ‘a continuation to seek funding for the development of the Poets Birthplace into a tourist attraction’ and therefore remains as a subject to be pursued.
Rupert Brooke was born at 5 Hillmorton Road and was educated at Rugby School where he began his writings. The Rupert Brooke Birthplace Trust created in 2000 sought to create an ‘attraction’ focusing on Rupert Brooke at 5 Hillmorton Road. The current owners of 5 Hillmorton Road are sympathetic to the proposals of developing their house into a memorial to Brooke but will only wait until the end of November 2003 for some commitment to purchase.
At the same time the Warwickshire Tourism Officers Group and others were looking at ways in which the county could capitalise upon the fame of William Shakespeare, to encourage people to discover the county’s lesser-known literary figures. Such as George Eliot, Philip Larkin, Rupert Brooke, Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) Salman Rushdie, Thomas Hughes and many others.
As a result an approach was made to Advantage West Midlands early this year by the Council in partnership with the Birthplace Trust for funding to develop these ideas. A grant of £45,000 was received and a consultancy company L&R Consulting engaged to carry out the work. Over the last 4 months the consultants have been liaising with a wide variety of organisations in the Borough, County and Region to ascertain the feasibility and financial implications.
1.2 THE CURRENT SITUATION
The feasibility study was completed at the end of August. A copy will be available in the Members Room. The consultant team believes that the ‘ initial review of the viability of developing 5 Hillmorton Road as a Birthplace Heritage attraction is positive, assuming a low key, step by step approach’. The report also indicates that to assist in making the project self-sustaining the first floor should be let as flat or office accommodation so as to generate sufficient income to help offset the running costs of the centre.
1.3 KEY RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE REPORT
Small-scale resource with ground floor only development
First floor used as housing or office accommodation to essentially provide a revenue funding stream
Visitor numbers in the range of 4,000 – 5,000 per year
The attraction should be operated through the Council’s Art Gallery & Museum service.
Co-operation with Rugby School and The Birthplace Trust is essential
Multi partner funding
Potential of developing county and regional tourism and literature linked packages are strong, but further work is needed to develop the concept.
The consultant’s estimate that the overall costs for the site acquisition and development would be in the region of £700,000 with the house purchase accounting for approximately £350,000. At present the house is valued at approximately £330,000, however, the current owners have indicated they would need a disturbance allowance if they were required to move quickly, which has been estimated at £20,000. Additional costs would be incurred from the development of the town and regional literary trails, annual revenue support and conversion of the first floor into flat or office accommodation.
1.4 BOROUGH AND COUNTY COUNCIL INVOLVEMENT
It is clear that unless there is substantial support from funding sources such as AWM and Heritage Lotteries Fund the project is unlikely to succeed. Sponsoring organisation’s need to make funding available from their own resources in order to obtain grants. AWM and HLF have been positive about the prospects of finance for the project but excluding the acquisition of the house. Funding for the acquisition of 5 Hillmorton Road would be necessary if the proposal was to progress. An option for this is the joint funding for the acquisition from either the County Council and/or the Borough Council.
Warwickshire County Council’s Rugby Area Committee (10th September 2003) is being asked to financially support this project.
1.5 FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS
In line with the County Council, the Borough Council is being asked to contribute up to £175,000 towards the purchase of the house . If it were decided to convert the first floor into flat accommodation an additional funding of £150,000 would be required from the Borough Council, the income from the rental then returning to the project.
A full assessment of the financial implications, particularly expected revenue costs, has not been undertaken. These are likely to be substantial, therefore a further report on the full cost implications would need to be considered by the Panel, Cabinet and Council to take the proposals further.
That Panel consider the consultants recommendations within this report.
Meeting dates for this committee
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