20/05/2024 - Permalink

Future of the English Bridge Workshop in Shrewsbury

Related topics: Assets and estates / Community / Leisure, culture and heritage / Partner organisations

Shropshire Council has recently learned that a petition has been created to ‘save’ the English Bridge Workshop in Shrewsbury.

This building is owned by the council and is currently occupied by MakeSpace CIC, who use it to provide studios and halls for artists and community groups.

MakeSpace CIC has applied for the building to be transferred to them as part of a Community Asset Transfer (CAT) lease.

In order to meet the CAT policy criteria and enable the transfer, the majority of the building needs to be for community use. The council has now put the application on hold, due to concerns about the amount of space that would be made available for this purpose.

English Bridge Workshop, Shrewsbury

English Bridge Workshop, Shrewsbury

Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for housing and assets, said:-

“We have been considering an application for a Community Asset Transfer lease from MakeSpace CIC for the English Bridge Workshop. At the CAT panel meeting in April 2024 it was agreed to put their application on hold, and we informed MakeSpace CIC of this decision earlier this month.

“This follows serious concerns we have about the level of community use, with the majority of the space currently being used by small businesses, which would be deemed a commercial use, and very limited use of the hall for community bookings.

“As many will understand, we simply cannot afford to give this building away unless it meets the requirements of our CAT policy, nor can we afford not to receive rent for its use if it continues to be used in a commercial way.

“We also need to take into consideration the condition of the building, which requires an extensive scheme of repairs, and explore our options with regards to future rental income or possibly selling the building, both of which would help us to continue to deliver essential services to our residents.

“I would like to reassure people though that no decision has yet been made. Our priority remains what is best for the community and the building itself.

“We will decide a suitable way forward within the next few weeks and we will continue to keep MakeSpace CIC informed throughout.”

Kate Halliday, local Shropshire Councillor for Belle Vue, said:-

“English Bridge Workshop has been an invaluable asset for the community for decades. So many residents from Shrewsbury and beyond have attended gigs, meetings, events and classes in the building over the years. Many of the regular classes provide a social lifeline for people.

“MakeSpace CIC are continuing the tradition of encouraging local and artistic communities to use the building. To hear that the building might be sold in an attempt to solve the council’s financial problems is devastating for the residents of Shrewsbury, and for MakeSpace CIC, who have exciting plans to improve the premises, and who thought they had found a new home.

“If the application is successful I am confident that MakeSpace CIC will attract significant investment into the building with their plans. If Shropshire Council have concerns about the current application, then I am sure there is a way to navigate to a situation where the council will be satisfied with the proposals.”