The Almonry Project
Latest Project News
The Almonry Development project has been in discussion for approximately 5 years. The Council must ensure this beautifully historic building remains an asset to the town for many years to come. All discussion and documentation around the decision making process for this project can be found on the Finance and General Purposes Committee or Full Council pages of the website. Please direct any questions on the Almonry Project to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Almonry Development Project – Next Steps
As many residents will already be aware, the beautiful historic Almonry building, which serves as an incredible asset to the town, is in desperate need of repair. Following public consultation which closed on 19th June, Council agreed that the building needs to be brought up to current health & safety standards, made accessible to all residents and visitors and upgraded to comply with the Equalities Act 2010 regarding employees with physical disabilities. Council can now confirm that a statement of action has now been agreed.
Following a meeting of the Almonry Development Working Group with the Quantity Surveyor to interrogate the detail, three recommendations were presented and subsequently agreed at the latest Full Council meeting, held on Tuesday 20th October:
- that Council accepts the tender of £573,193.53 from Vulcan Ellis to undertake those works specified in the tender document in respect of:
- internal and external repairs and renovations to the fabric of the building. This will include: roof; fascia tiles and masonry; windows; ceilings; woodwork such as panelling, doors and staircase;
- improvements to services. Including electrical rewire and provision of electric heating supplied by renewable power, in accordance with the Council’s commitment to the Climate Emergency;
- the provision of disabled access via a reduced and resurfaced slope to a platform lift at the rear of the existing porch. This will allow access by all at the same location;
- the provision of accessible toilet facilities within the building. There is currently a multi-step to the only ground floor facility. This will be reduced;
- the upgrading of toilet and kitchen facilities. The existing facilities are not to an appropriate standard for use by hirers, tenants or staff;
- the provision of a Tourist Information Point (TIP) within a reception area for Town and Rother District Council Officers. The Council has received many requests, and has researched other sites, for a visitors to obtain information. This has been an ongoing objective but is made more pertinent in these current times to encourage a return to Battle businesses. Council staff and volunteers will be trained to undertake this service;
- that Council applies to the Public Works Loan Board for a loan facility of £600,000 to cover the cost of these works on the understanding that applications will also be made to the Covid-19 Emergency Heritage at Risk Response Fund (max £25,000) towards repairs, and to the Rother District Council Strategic Community Infrastructure Levy(CIL) Fund towards the development of wheelchair access and toilet facilities First call to be on these funds if applications are successful. Only funds not raised by grants or Ear Marked Reserves will be drawn down from the loan. Interest payments are only applied to drawn down funds, not the whole amount;
- that Council applies for all necessary additional planning and other permissions, the cost of these and other professional fees associated with overseeing the works, approximately £3,500, to be covered by the existing Almonry Repairs Ear Marked Reserve fund. This will be offset by a generous offer by Stephen Gray to make the necessary applications for the accessible toilet facility, platform lift and the re-grading and finishing of the ramp pro-bono.
Information relating to the project, including previous meeting documents, can be found at battletowncouncil.gov.uk. Alternatively please contact
email@example.com or call 01424 772210.
Update to Almonry Project March 2021
A provisional date for the repairs and maintenance to The Almonry has been agreed with contractors for Monday 26thApril 2021. The work should take approximately16 to 20 weeks to complete. During this period Council staff will be based at The Old Court House, North Trade Road, Battle.
A grant of £7000 has been received from Rother District Council’s Community Grant Fund. The Town Council was also offered a Grant from Historic England’s COVID-19 Emergency Heritage at Risk Response Fund, however there were strict conditions that required the emergency work to start immediately and be completed as a separate phase to the remaining work. The Town Council and its chosen contractors were unable to meet these conditions as the resulting substantial increase in costs would negate the grant award. For this reason, regrettably the Town Council were unable to accept the grant.
The Town Council is awaiting confirmation of approval from the Public Works Loan Board for a loan facility of £600,000 to cover the cost of these work, although only funds required will be drawn down.
Almonry update - January 2021
Battle Town Council has been working on the Almonry project for over 4 years, with plans to repair and improve the Grade II* Listed Almonry Building. The project will ensure the heritage building delivers an efficient and safe working environment and fulfils the Council’s statutory and moral obligations to make it accessible to all.
The improvements to the Almonry building will also support the town’s post-COVID-19 recovery, with a focus on developing the town’s tourism offering and supporting local enterprise.
In 2020, Battle Town Council undertook a consultation process with residents to understand how they would like the Town Council to take the Almonry project forward. Although the response rate of the consultation was disappointing, Council took the view that residents trusted in their elected Members to make the best decision for this heritage building. It was also felt that the responses provided evidence that the Council must find a way to bring the Almonry up to an acceptable standard and keep it as a Council office.
After many years of previous Councils not undertaking significant maintenance and repairs, the Council is keen for the works to commence as soon as possible to protect the historic building from further deterioration.
Following the strict tender process, the preferred contractor has been selected at a cost of £573,193.53. Council has always acknowledged that this work will require appropriate professionals to project manage and ensure the work to the Town’s heritage building, The Almonry, is carried out to the highest standard and in line with the regulations surrounding listed buildings. At this week’s meeting, Council were presented with the costs to complete this project at £42,679.76. The project cannot move forward without the services of an Architect, Quantity Surveyor and other relevant specialists. By a majority vote, the motion to instruct JD Clarke and Blade Consulting to undertake these crucial tasks was agreed.
The Council has submitted applications to Historic England’s COVID-19 Emergency Heritage at Risk Response Fund and Rother District Council’s Community Grant Fund to raise funds towards urgent repairs and a discrete project to provide full access for those with disabilities, which both contribute to the overall improvements to the building. Council’s Ear Marked Reserves will provide match funding for the accessibility items requested from the Community Grant. An application will shortly be made to the Public Works Loan Board with a plan for works to commence in Spring 2021.
Almonry update - June 2020
Draft Strategic Plans are now available. These will remain in draft until Council has considered action at its meeting on 30th June 2020.
As many Battle residents are aware one of the town’s oldest heritage buildings, The Almonry, is in desperate need of repair. The building needs to be brought up to current health & safety standards, made accessible to all residents and visitors and upgraded to comply with the Equalities Act 2010 regarding employees with physical disabilities. Whilst the unprecedented recent events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic keep us within our homes for the time being, now could be a good time to reflect on other local matters.
There are three key aspects to Battle Town Council’s vision for The Almonry building:
Providing excellent services to residents
Flexible, fully accessible space for increased Town & District Council activities, community groups and the public.
Supporting town development and economic growth
A central and welcoming hub, providing help and information for our community and for tourists.
Preserving our heritage
An expertly restored and ‘reinstated’ building with space for heritage exhibitions will ensure its continued use and enjoyment for years to come.
This overall vision has helped to shape the Council’s deliberations regarding The Almonry. Costs are very important, but they need to be considered in conjunction with thought about how decisions may impact the town, its residents and its heritage assets. Some benefits do not have a monetary value. The Council needs to provide better facilities to meet the town’s current needs, but also wants to future-proof The Almonry. Future needs are difficult to predict, but it is valid to consider aspirations as well as evidence.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is with regret that the Annual Parish Assembly has been cancelled on the 25th April 2020. However, Battle Town Council will still be holding public consultation on the options for the long term future of the Almonry Building via the Annual Report which will be circulated to all residents within the Parish in early April.
Option 1 - Battle Civic Centre Provide a future proofed facility, accessible by disabled people, for Battle with: sufficient Council office space to enable expansion; a formal Council meeting room; a spacious information centre for Town and District Council services; a welcoming Tourist & Heritage information area and flexible meeting spaces for Council and Community use. Repair & refurbishment of The Almonry and rebuilding of the south wing would cost in the region of £895,770.49. Savings are still being explored (indicated to be in excess of £100,000 at the time of going to press).
Option 2 - A refurbished Almonry Provide Council office space for current staffing; a formal Council meeting room; a hub for Town and District Council information and a Tourist Information Point. Repairs & refurbishment of the Almonry would cost in the region of £739,523.87. Savings are still being explored (indicated to be in excess of £100,000 at the time of going to press). NB. Without suitable facilities for staff, Councillors and visitors with mobility difficulties, this option may not be viable. Alternatives to ensure full accessibility for wheelchair users will continue to be sought.
Option 3 - The relocation of the Council offices The Council would rent fully accessible premises that meet current needs. The Almonry would be repaired to rent as offices. The Council would be responsible for ongoing repairs and maintenance. Repairs would cost in the region of £517,231.27. Savings are still being explored (indicated to be in excess of £100,000 at the time of going to press).
Option 4 - The sale of The Almonry Relocation of Council offices to fully accessible premises, either rented or purchased. The sale could raise in the region of £445,000 less professional fees and relocation costs.
The report expands on the information provided above and includes a questionnaire, inviting individuals to think carefully about the different options available and detail which, they feel, is best for the town.
Before deciding how to proceed, the Council wants to hear from residents of Battle Civil Parish. We are calling on a wide range of people to make their views heard, so it is important to have your say. Please complete and return pages 14-16 of the Annual Report to: The Almonry, High Street, Battle, TN33 0EA by 19th June 2020.
Annual memorial inspection - The Council has completed this year's annual safety inspection of the memorials/headstones at Battle Cemetery and St Mary's churchyard. Visitors to the cemetery are asked NOT to reinstall any memorial which has been laid down as all pairs need to be carried out by a qualified stonemason. Anyone wishing to discuss the inspection or a memorial which has been laid down is invited to contact the office. (09/08/2019)
High Street skate ramp - The council are fund raising to replace the skate ramp on Battle High Street.
The Town Council office is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday
Full Council meetings are held on the third Tuesday of each month. Dates, times and venues of these meetings are advertised on several notice boards throughout the town and are available on the webiste. Members of the public are most welcome to attend and speak to Members about any issues during the public session or just sit and listen.
Ongoing project information can also be found on this website along with an opportunity to sign up to receive news posts automatically.