Since November 2017 Moniaive Initiative have been using a Big Lottery Fund Development Grant to progress a Concept Design for the proposed Community Shop & Hub project in Moniaive High Street.
Having established through an earlier Feasibility Study that this model could be sustainable in Moniaive, we completed an Options Appraisal on 6 buildings that were then available for purchase / lease in the High Street, and finally settled on Ebruchie as our ‘target’ building.
Throughout December 2017 and January 2018 we commissioned a series of specialist surveys to create a full Condition Survey on the building. At the same time our Architects drafted two alternative ‘Concept Design’ plans to show how the available space might be used.
The results of the specialist surveys unfortunately showed that Ebruchie is in a much worse condition than expected. This, combined with the need for flood mitigation works, pushed up the cost estimates for the project. We investigated options for reducing these costs, and drafted a reduced plan in our Concept Design Option 3. However, the repair and renovation costs for the building became so high that we were advised that even this reduced plan would still be too expensive to be considered for grant support, especially given the smaller community benefit that could be derived from the reduced design option. In March 2018 The Trustees of Moniaive Initiative therefore decided to withdraw from the Scottish Land Fund and Big Lottery Scotland application processes to re-evaluate our proposals and investigate new ways in which to bring them to fruition.
Through the summer of 2018 Kara Millen, our Community Hub Development Officer, re-visited our Options Appraisal and investigated alternative ideas and options. Throughout this period she was able to discuss ideas with local residents and community groups, including the Glencairn Memorial Institute. This has enabled us to further consider how a new Community Shop and Hub might be developed to ensure that it complements, not competes with, our existing community space provision in Moniaive.
As a result of this process, we turned our attention to the AMD Building in the High Street. In May we were kindly allowed by the owners, AMD, to run a trial ‘Pop Up Hub’ during the weekend of the Moniaive Folk Festival. This gave us the opportunity to showcase not only our own work, but also that of many other community groups and organisations. We received positive feedback on this trial, and were able to use it to consider in more detail how we might use that building in the future.
In July 2018 we were accepted back onto the Big Lottery / Scottish Land Fund programme, and were subsequently successful with our Stage I application. We then received confirmation that we would be allowed to use our remaining Development Grant to run a longer ‘Trial’ Shop & Hub, and were able to negotiate a 6-month lease of the building to enable this to happen.
In November 2018 we started remedial works to enable us to bring the empty building back into use. These included inspections of the electrical, plumbing and heating installations, and replacement of the broken front window. With the help of local volunteers we have been able to clean and redecorate the building, to create a warm and welcoming space in which to trial a variety of ideas.
We have borrowed some furniture from Dumfries SHAX, and have received further donations of furniture, paint and decorating equipment from local residents. Some of the donated furniture has been ‘upcycled’ to provide interesting display space, including clothes rails and display counters made from the solid wooden doors donated from a nearby house renovation. In all our volunteers spent some 117 hours preparing the building for opening in November and December, and we would like to say an enormous Thank You to everyone who donated their time and their skills so enthusiastically.
We submitted our Stage II application (for purchase costs) to the Scottish Land Fund in early December. Then doors of our ‘Trial Hub’ were eventually opened in mid-December 2018, with a pop-up party for the Living Advent Calendar, followed by an Official Opening event. We were overwhelmed by the local support for these events, and have been heartened by the continuation of that support during our early weeks of trading during the cold, dark months of January and February.
Our Hub currently includes a shop-front selling locally-produced Arts & Crafts items, a shop alcove selling pre-loved clothes and accessories, and an Honesty Library and book shop. We are still developing our Local Information Point and Therapy Room, and will commence regular, practical skills workshops during February 2019. We now have a core staff of trained and skilled volunteers, and have been able to open for approximately 80 hours per month, including evening and weekends.
In early February 2019 we held a competition to name the Hub, and eventually settled on ‘The Hive’. Later that month we received confirmation that our Scottish Land Fund application has been successful: we have been awarded £56,691 to enable us to purchase AMD House and carry out essential repairs. Our solicitors are currently negotiating the purchase, and we will let everyone know once the building is officially ours!
In the meantime, we will continue to share our proposals for this building, so if you have any queries or ideas to share, please do get in touch!