Approximately 200 residents were welcomed to the meeting about the future of Burnby Hall by town councillor Patrick John (Former army officer and DEFRA policy unit). Patrick was standing in for the Mayor, Roly Cronshaw who was unable to attend. With him were Cllrs Steve McCann (purchasing manager for a major grocer), Sue Carden (semi-retired quantity surveyor), Robert Fisk (Accountant) and others plus the three Pocklington Provincial ward councillors and Cllr Leo Hammond.

Current situation
The Burnby Hall building which includes the Community Hall are currently owned by East Riding Council. Full explanation here.
The building needs some maintenance and updates to comply with H&S and DDA legislation and fire regulations.
ER Council is keen to divest themselves of the property primarily to save money on annual running costs. More here . There are two options:
1. make an asset transfer of the building to Pocklington Town Council for community use
2. Sell it on the commercial market to a developer
ER Council have asked that Pocklington TC submit a draft business case/statement of intent/proof of community support to them by November to persuade them that the town has a viable compelling plan to take the building forward. The case will need to include information about how initial renovation costs will be funded plus the annual running costs.
Moving Forward
PTC wants to establish a community group led by the Town Council which will include volunteers with appropriate expertise to help develop the business case.
If the building is transferred to PTC the group would eventually take over responsibility for the building.
  • Options for future use of the hall include the Heritage Trust for use as a museum, spaces for local charities, small businesses, and a community hub.
  • The timescale of 14 weeks to draw up and submit a business plan is a tight timescale but ER Council are so far being supportive. Initially the town council needs to show an indication of intent and that there is enough interest from the community in an asset transfer.
  • The building is not listed but there are several covenants on the future use of the building. Nothing can happen to the building in the future without the agreement of the Burnby Hall Gardens Trust.
  • Concern was expressed about the timescale given that some people who might like to help are away on holidays.
  • The town council are due to meet with ERYC in September to update them on progress.
  • A variety of income streams will be required to fund the building including leasing out parts of the building to voluntary groups who will pay a social rent, hopefully grants and money from local developers.
  • One of the options being considered is that the building will be run as a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation). Such an arrangement would, for example, result in saving 80% on rates.
  • People with experience of setting up and running a charity are needed plus grant finders, tax accountants and architects.
  • Burnby Hall and the community hall cannot be separated and have to be taken over as a single package.
  • Cllr Sue Carden is a semi-retired quantity surveyor and has already arranged for a roof survey to be done, and an electrical and mechanical consultant will be taking a look this week. As a QS she will input into potential remedial building costs.
  • Cllr Gareth Shepphard said that the councillors would press ER council for as much financial support as possible, especially section 106 money.
  • ER Council have shared information about running costs but on close examination it looks like some costs have been inflated. Some costs were presented as sterling figures but it turns out they are in another currency. The figure also includes personnel, which wouldn’t necessarily be included in the future.
  • Pocklington Town Council learned that ER Council were planning to divest the building in December last year.Cllr McCann eventually managed to invite himself to a meeting with the previous ward cllrs and officilals. On a number of occasions Cllr McCan tried to meet ER officials but was ignored. Since the elction council officers are being more supportive.
Phil Gillbank of the Pocklington Heritage Trust said that there are major risks in NOT taking the building on. He couldn’t recall anywhere the size of Pocklington that doesn’t have a town hall or community centre. If you don’t support this project, you will be voting for less facilities and less infrastructure.
Archaeologist, Peter Halkon, said that people from South America to Poland are wanting to view and study the Pocklington archaeological finds and the Arras culture it represents. We have stuff the British Museum want but we should be able to display them in Pocklington. Over 6,600 people have signed a petition to establish a local museum.
This project is not unique. The Penny Arcadia was going to be sold and turned into a retail unit. The town council and residents saved it and turned it into the Pocklington Arts Centre. If we can’t’ save Burnby Hall it’ll be gone forever.
After the meeting about a dozen people stepped forward to register their interest in becoming part of the group which will take the project forward.
When asked who was in favour of saving the building for the community there was a unanimous show of hands as you can see in the photograph.
Watch this space.

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