The inaugural meeting of Pocklington Town Councils ‘Burnby Hall Project Committee’ took place last night Monday 25 September 2023 at the Arts Centre.

In addition to town councillors, the clerk and deputy clerk approximately 20 volunteers were present plus our three ward councillors.

Cllr Roly Cronshaw was appointed as chair, Vice Chair Patrick John, Councillors Ged Leach, Dafydd Williams, Jon Dukes and Steve McMillan were also co-opted as committee members.
The working group leaders were confirmed as:

Cllr Robert Fiske – Finance & Planning/Research
Cllr Pam Powell – Development/ Fund Raising
Cllr Dafydd Williams – Legal/ Property/ Charity administration
Cllr Ged Leach – Grant Funding/Bid Writing
Cllr Patrick John – Business Plan
Cllr Sue Carden – Building/ Architects/ energy

After the formal part of the meeting Cllr Cronshaw shared the vision for the project: “To support and positively influence a thriving, connected and inclusive community”. Pocklington Town Council will be responsible for the project with support provided by the expert volunteers.

As the council does not have all the skills to take a project such as this forward so the community will need to help.

Cllr Robert Fiske, an accountant, presented an overview of the work he has been doing on the financial feasibility of the project. To secure the future of the hall any business plan must be financially viable and sustainable for the next 5 to 6 years. His financial model included ideas and information from similar projects including Bishop Wilton Community Hall and the Headingly Arts and Enterprise Centre.

The basic plan is to sell space within the building to long term tenants or office hire which will be priced to ensure maximum use.

The Hall would be owned by the council but eventually run by a charity as this would result in several financial benefits including access to grants and dispensation from business rates which are currently £17k.

Three long term tenants were currently interested in taking space which includes the Heritage Trust.

To break event the building would need to achieve a 10% utilisation rate. Given the current assumptions it was his view that the building is a viable proposition, but further work needed to be done to validate some of the assumptions.

In his business model he had estimated that around £600k worth of building work needs to be done to make the building watertight and compliant with current regulations. The primary source of funding could be the UK Shared Prosperity Fund but £120k of this would need to be match funded locally through sponsorship, donations and fund raising.

Cllr Sue Carden, semi-retired quantity surveyor, had been round the building several times with ERYC officers and building consultants. These are the headlines:

  • The building is not in too bad a state.
  • A roof drone survey had shown that work needs doing and there are a couple of minor leaks.
  • East Riding Council have not done much maintenance over the last 3 years.
  • A lot of work needs to be done to address issues raised in a fire report from 2021. Including the installation of fire doors in key areas.
  • The building is currently considered to be a single occupancy building but if various tenants use the building in the future, it will be a multi occupancy building which will require improvements to be made to the fire evacuation strategy and DDA access.
  • It is currently planned to update the existing kitchen facilities but not to establish a cafeteria which would involve additional expenditure to meet current regulations and guidelines for catering.
  • The incoming power cable to the building will need to be investigated as it appears that it does not appear to comply with current regulations.
  • Initial costings have been received to upgrade the conservatory by installing double glazing and making the roof solar controlled.
  • It is intended to ask ERYC to help with some of the larger expenditure items.


I listened in to some of the group discussions and was impressed by the range of knowledge and enthusiasm of all concerned. A lot of detailed work has already been done and the foundations are being laid for a firm business plan.

There are of course significant risks ahead. Those who have bought old houses will be acutely aware that costs can go up as well as down when you start to peel off the old wallpaper. Financial assumptions are just that until they are tested in the market. But you must start somewhere. The alternative is to do nothing and allow the building to be sold to a developer.

Finally, well done to our volunteer town councillors for really getting their act together on this one and of course to our volunteers for steeping forward. We have momentum!

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