Bishops Castle & District Community Land Trust aspirations are to deliver more jobs for the benefit of the local community, to support growth and sustain a local rural economy. Key aims focus on providing affordable housing to local people, premises for small businesses, making land available for allotments, market gardens, orchards and woodland and acquiring and holding land for any other use of benefit to the people of Bishop’s Castle and District.
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All the above aims have been considered in the development of the outline business case. The strategic case to develop and create new employment opportunity is shared by all partners – Shropshire Council – Bishop’s Castle Town Council – Enterprise South West Shropshire. Priority focus has been to establish both ‘need’ and the commercial case together with a ‘build design model’ that will accommodate business types today and in the longer term to support change on use. Phased development supports management of cost, affordability and risk. Community engagement, renewables – sustainable energy for the park and as part of a wider community objective together with other exciting local project developments, makes up our proposal. Our aims directly link to Shropshire council’s priorities to deliver social, economic & environmental benefits across as wide and diverse a range of local people as possible within the community in which the asset is located. We believe ‘failure to achieve’ may serve as the catalyst to drive negative change with businesses forced to consider moving across the border to Wales or relocate to larger urban communities. In the context of 2020 and inevitable change ahead in terms of how we manage services locally,
Community leadership, as already stated, has never been more important. A great example of Bishops Castle’s community commitment to retain local provision can be seen with its robust response to threat of closure of the SpArC leisure Facility with imminent withdrawal of funding. Enterprise South West Shropshire is also another great example – created in the early 1990s as a result of the recession when the town’s two largest employers, FarmGas and Walters of Ludlow departed and the area economy looked doomed. A local regeneration project jointly proposed by South Shropshire District Council and the local Parishes was presented to Central Government for large scale funding under their new Rural Challenge fund. ‘A Lifeline for Bishops Castle’ was born and funded to the tune of about £6m in order to carry out major regeneration work in the wider area. The flagship of the project was housed in the old Walters Trouser Factory in Bishop’s Castle; now called Enterprise House, which has grown and flourished over the years. Latest additions to the Company portfolio include the SpArC Theatre (2013) & the Library (2016). Enterprise South West Shropshire will likely submit a Community Asset Transfer in 2017.
And The Community Land Trust
In 2004/05, the Bishop’s Castle Parish Plan showed that the lack of affordable homes “was the single issue that concerned the great majority of people in town with an overwhelming number of people thinking that there were not enough affordable houses to purchase or rent”. Bishops Castle & District Community Land Trust was established in 2007, our aims reflecting the wishes of residents as expressed in the above Parish Plan and in the Housing Needs and Business survey conducted by the Land Trust Steering Group in 2006.
The BC&DLT is an Industrial and Provident Society for the benefit of the community to acquire, hold, develop and lease land and property for permanently affordable housing and asset based community development. Any member of the community over 18 can become a shareholder member of the Trust.
A partnership consisting of Bishops Castle Town Council, Enterprise South West Shropshire and Bishops Castle & District Community Land Trust, with support from County Councillor Jonny Keeley, is seeking the transfer of the Bishops Castle Business Park from Shropshire Council into the ownership of the Land Trust.
In order to make an effective business case for this community-led development, we need to know what the likely demand might be for work units. The above survey is being widely distributed through a range of contacts and networks, to gather enough information that will enable us to make robust assessment of the area’s business needs.