THE LLANELLI Goods Shed Project has received further good news recently, after it was awarded funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales.
The £58,000 development grant followed hot on the heels of a similar grant of £50,000 from the Big Lottery Fund.
However, as one of the trustees said: ‘Now the hard work really begins.’
The ground-breaking Goods Shed project aims to restore the derelict Grade II Listed building in Marsh Street and bring it back into life as a dynamic multi-purpose hub for the community.
The whole scheme is currently estimated to cost £1.7m.
It’s a hugely ambitious idea and the biggest independent project of its kind in West Wales.
The cash went into a total budget pot of £133,800 of development funding which will give the project lift-off.
The development funding will allow us to do the preparation work of reports from surveyors and architects and planning permissions. That work is underway.
Lead architects (Cardiff-based Davies Sutton, award-winning conservation architects) have been appointed.
Surveyors were hard at work on the site this week and last week. All that activity is a sign of a project taking shape.
But it’s a project which needs the support of the community of Llanelli and beyond – from local residents living close to the site to other interested groups who (we hope) will come from far and wide to use the building.
Of crucial importance to us now is taking the people of Llanelli with us on the journey to completing this project.
We will be consulting with the public as we finalise the plans for the building.
And we remain open to ideas from all stakeholders and interested groups and individuals for the future use of the building.
The Goods Shed charity’s trustees appreciate there is no monopoly on good ideas and we suspect that many very innovative uses for the building will be provided by the wider community.
The latest announcement from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is a huge boost for the project and represents another important part of our funding jigsaw.
Both the HLF and Big Lottery fund grants carry passes into a Round Two of further capital funding – and that is where much of the hard work will be required in coming months.
We are grateful to Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund Wales for showing confidence in the project. Accessing grant funding is an incredibly competitive and challenging business nowadays, so we thank both organisations for recognising that we have a project here in the Goods Shed that is worthy of support.
To get to this stage, we have already received support from Carmarthenshire County Council and the Architectural Heritage Fund. Both HLF and Big Lottery Fund have been extremely helpful in guiding us through the grants process.
In addition to the development funding, we also have a pledge of £400,000 in capital/building works funding from the Railway Heritage Trust.
All that we have achieved so far is down to the support we have received from the people of Llanelli and we look forward to counting on their further support as the project starts to gather up a greater head of steam.
Our project will breathe new life into the building and our current plans involve establishing a multi-purpose community hub to include offices, arts facilities, a cafe and a heritage experience.
Once the building is renovated and in daily use it will be a huge improvement for this area, near Llanelli Railway Station, and will be a real boost for the local community.
As project officer, I will be working closely with the local community and interested groups, organisations and individuals over the next few weeks as we begin to lock down our plans for the site.
Of course, the key player in the whole project is Network Rail, the current owners of the Goods Shed site.
We have been working closely with Network Rail in recent years to secure the site. Their cooperation in helping us progress the project is greatly appreciated.
The Big Lottery’s CAT2 (capital asset transfer) scheme is all about bringing buildings back into community use.
For those unfamiliar with the site, the former Llanelli Railway Goods Shed is an imposing Grade II listed building situated alongside the main railway line just east of Llanelli Station.
Built in 1875, it is one of the few surviving examples in Wales. In fact, we have looked, but have not yet found anything that resembles it in Wales. It is built in the classic ‘Brunel’ style.
The shed has been unused for many years and has sadly fallen into a state of disrepair.
In 2011, the Llanelli Railway Goods Shed Trust was formed with a view to restoring the building and bringing it back into use for the benefit of the community.
The Goods Shed is sited on the former South Wales Railway that ran from Chepstow to Fishguard.
The Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates, visited the Goods Shed as part of a fact-finding tour of west Wales’ heritage sites.
Mr Skates said: “I was delighted to see at first hand the hard work being put into the Llanelli Railway Goods Shed Trust project.
“It’s an ambitious plan for an area which needs investment and rejuvenation and the energy and enthusiasm shown by the Trust members, volunteers and project supporters is impressive.
“The proposals set out by the Trust are supportive of the aims and objectives of our Historic Environment (Wales) Bill and wider policy, which aims to improve the management and protection of our historic environment, including finding sustainable solutions for future use of historic buildings, such as these proposed for the Goods Shed. I wish the Trust the very best in their efforts.”
It is associated with the nearby station buildings with both groups of buildings dating from a growth in the tinplate industry that was centred on Llanelli.
The Goods Shed remains as an example of a particular type of functional building and is included on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, Grade II.
WHAT WILL THE GOODS SHED HOUSE?
The building is divided into four parts – main office block, large railway good shed platform hall, basement and steel canopy (this is also Listed status).
Some of the ideas include transforming the main office block into rental accommodation for startup businesses and social enterprises; providing a meeting space for community groups; and providing coworker space for creative industries.
It is hoped that the main shed will host exhibitions focusing on Llanelli’s railway history and the town’s industrial past; along with a restaurant and space for community group activities, private hire events, and exhibition space.
Options are also being considered for the basement, outside area, and canopy area.
These are ‘ideas’ at present and the trust will spend time consulting with local residents and a wide range of community groups, organisations and individuals to establish what the community needs and wants in the shed.
HOW DOES THE PROJECT ‘STACK UP’ FINANCIALLY?
One of the frequently asked questions on the project is: How does it stack up financially?
The figure of £138,000 is the amount of money the trust ‘needs’ to complete development works.
So far, the trust has been given £58,800 of Heritage Lottery Fund Wales money and £50,000 of Big Lottery Wales CAT2 funding.
Other funds have been received from Carmarthenshire County Council and the Architectural Heritage Fund. Fund-raising, other donations and contributions, charity reserves and other non-cash contributions (such as gifted equipment) and volunteer time will make up the balance for the development stage of the project.
The main bill for the capital costs – the actual building refurbishment and renovation and other construction costs will come to an estimated £1.76m, with work on the project scheduled to commence in 2017.
Of that sum, £400,000 has already been secured by the trustees from the Railway Heritage Trust.
The rest of the money will come from the Stage 2 capital funding bids being submitted to Big Lottery Wales and the Heritage Lottery Fund (Wales) and other funding sources, including European funding, other grant funders, other charitable trusts, commercial sponsorship arrangements, individual donors and sponsors and fund-raising.
There are eight members of the Llanelli Railway Goods Shed Trust. Headed by MP Nia Griffith, the other members are Richard Roper, secretary, Martin Doe, treasurer, Ken Jones, heritage officer, George Parker, technical officer, Councillor Roger Price, Charles Watson and the Rev Eldon Phillips.
The eight Trustees have a wide range of relevant skills and experience.
Nia Griffith has been MP for Llanelli since 2005 and is currently the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales.
Richard Roper spent his entire working career with British Rail/ Railtrack/Network Rail before his retirement in 2002.
Martin Doe is a solicitor in private practice in Cardiff. He has a wide range of experience in community projects.
George Parker is a director of the award-winning Parker Brothers Contractors and Parker Plant Hire in Llanelli.
Rev Eldon Phillips is widely known in Llanelli and beyond for his work as a vicar and for his contributions to the community and charitable life of the town.
Ken Jones is an experienced heritage enthusiast with a wide knowledge of planning issues and community-based project and organisations.
Roger Price is a former Mayor of Llanelli and a teacher.
Charles Watson has worked in construction, industry and logistics. He is a committee member with Llanelli Disabled Drivers Association.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
You can join the Friends of the Llanelli Railway Goods Shed Trust for a £10 annual subscription. The membership offers invitations to regular fund-raising events and newsletters on the progress of the project. You can join by emailing the treasurer, Martin Doe, on – [email protected]
The trust will soon be in a position to start recruiting volunteers. Initial tasks are likely to include help with research and the publication of a booklet on the history of the shed and a leaflet on the projected uses for the shed. In future months, there are likely to be opportunities for painting and decorating work and light site clearance works. Donations towards the cost of the project are welcome at all stages. Please contact the treasurer by emailing Martin Doe on: [email protected]
The charity trustees are also looking to extend the membership of the trustees.
Key areas of experience will include: Finance; project management; procurement; facilities; and café/centre management.
If you think you can help as a volunteer or trustee, please send a full CV to project officer Robert Lloyd – 07777 683637 [email protected]