There is no doubt that working on community projects can be incredibly satisfying.
Perhaps it’s because you are involved with people, often volunteers, who are so passionate about making a difference to their communities? You hear about their dreams and aspirations, feel their enthusiasm and that passion and enthusiasm is infectious. You can’t help but want to make their project happen; to turn their dreams into reality.
Those volunteers are patient and determined. They usually have to be. Community projects are often slow burners, sometimes really slow! The process of fund raising and grant applications, the ups when they’re successful, the downs when they aren’t. Combine this with procurement, planning applications and the occasional legal issue and you could be working on a community project for a while – years, even. You become quite wedded to it; the file is always on your desk and is frequently the subject line of incoming e-mails. The longer it goes on the more momentous when it finally reaches completion.
We first started working on the Wells Maltings Project five years ago. Already a successful, if slightly time-worn, community centre and local arts venue, the Wells Maltings Trust wanted the historic building at the centre of the Norfolk sea side town to be bigger and better. To offer more to the town and the wider community – to be a major cultural hub for North Norfolk.
Initially on a pro-bono basis, we assisted the Trust with their Stage 1 Heritage Lottery Fund application and with the initial planning application process for their plans.
The project started off with planning permission for a simple but elegant brick extension to an old and historic building but has developed over time into a bold bronze clad striking juxtaposition, completed this summer by Robson Construction. Partly through the procurement process but also other circumstances the project has seen three successive architectural practices helping to develop and realise the charitable trust’s aspirations, each bringing great value to the project in different ways.
As quantity surveyors and project manager we are pleased to have been a constant at our client’s side.
A very restricted town centre site, a listed building, flexibility for multiple uses and specialist fit-out has brought with it its challenges but it’s been a privilege to work on this exciting project over the last five years for such a dedicated and enthusiastic client team.
The great thing about our industry is that once a project is complete it need not be the end of the relationship. This is particularly true of Wells Maltings – I think I might just pop off to the seaside now to see what’s on in this wonderful new venue.
Photographs: Sarah Toon Photography