Bar, cafe or art gallery? Community asked to suggest uses for old Conservative Club
- Credit: Andrew Hirst
The people of Framlingham are being invited to breathe new life into a prominent listed building that has served the town for more than a century.
Mark Hoare and Ted Ridge, the two architects behind brand new company Paper House, have set their sights on seizing control from big developers and creating a space of “lasting social value” for the quaint market town.
The pair say they were prompted by an opportunity to purchase the former Conservative Club in Framlingham’s Church Street, which may otherwise have fallen into the hands of a “typical developer-led scheme” – resulting in the site being “carved up” into several units with little benefit for the community.
Now the people of Framlingham are being asked to suggest new uses for the space, in an effort to balance population growth with a rise in employment and social opportunity for all.
“It’s very early days on the project (one month today since we completed) and we are at present throwing our net fairly wide open to see what ideas people have and what community needs we might potentially help to address,” Mr Hoare said.
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“We don’t have fixed ideas and have had some very useful meetings so far including with Framlingham Town Council and St Michael’s Church; ideas to date from a wide range of sources include a bar or cafe, a co-working office studio, more regular office space, meeting space, an art gallery or exhibition space for weekly hire, occasional cinema space, studio space for artists, a second flat or holiday let to supplement the existing flat.
“But we are not committing to anything yet until we have met more people and had more time to work out what we can actually afford to do. Also the building is listed, so changes to the building will need Listed Building Consent.”
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Founded in 1910, Framlingham Conservative Club was originally opened as part of the British Council Working Men’s Club movement. A Doctor Edwards gave his house and surgery to the town for the club.
“The Conservatives did so badly in 1906 election, they set up Conservative working men’s clubs all over the country,” explained the club’s secretary, Bob Roberts.
“A ‘Doctor Edwards’ gave his house and surgery to the town for the club. During the First World War, they built a community hall adjacent to the club to be used for convalescing of soldiers.”
The community groups that used the facilities included Friends of St Michaels Church, Probus, the Bridge Club, the Canine Rescue Centre, Weight Watchers and Fram Flyers running club.
Two years ago, the premises was sold the freehold to the Association of Conservative Clubs for £300,000, in order to pay for essential repairs to the listed building.
It formally closed in December last year.
Anybody with ideas for the space can get in touch with the team by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.