The transfer of 18 Belle Vue Road from Cornwall Council to Community Enterprises PL12 is complete, securing the future of Citizen’s Advice (CAB) in the town centre.
The substantial three story building has been gifted under the Council’s ‘localism and devolution’ scheme, for the benefit of local residents. Under the two-year lease agreement it will become a centre for social organisations and supporting services.
The CAB has been based in the building for many years, and will soon be joined by Saltash Food Bank, which is bringing all its operations together under one roof. By working alongside each other they will be able to provide a better and more complete service to clients. A small team of Social Workers will continue to be based at Belle Vue, alongside a new tenant, local charity Groundwork South.
Key to ensuring the future financial success of the project was attracting commercial tenants; CFD Architects has taken prime office space and transferred its business from Trerulefoot. Existing Saltash business Hemsley Fraser is moving into the top floor office, which will enable it to expand within the town centre. Both tenants have committed to help support the community building’s ethos by offering work experience, apprenticeships or charitable fundraising.
A month-long refurbishment has modernised the office space and brought a fresh new look to the building. Much of the work was ‘payback’ – community service – ordered by the courts as part of sentence following a criminal conviction. Offenders were supervised by the Devon and Cornwall Probation Trust.
It has taken over a year to realise the vision of a self-financing space for social organisations in the town.
When Saltash Town Council heard that Cornwall Council was considering selling the Belle Vue Road site they were keen to secure it for the use of the local community, and keep it as the home of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB). They turned to Community Enterprises PL12 for help. Peter Thistlethwaite, chair of the volunteer group, led the negotiations.
“Having been persuaded by the Town Council not to sell the building over the heads of Citizens Advice, Cornwall Council made the generous offer of allowing us a two year rent-free period to see if we could come up with a viable business plan to save it for the community,” he said.
“We had done this by January 2015, but it has taken a frustratingly long time to go through all the necessary legal and other bureaucratic processes. Now we are bringing two new businesses into Saltash, are going to provide a town centre home for the Foodbank, and have secured the continuation of Citizens Advice in the town,” he added.
This asset transfer by Cornwall Council is one of several completed or planned for Saltash under Cornwall Council’s Devolution programme; Others include Mary Newman’s Cottage and The Core (was K3).
Jeremy Rowe, Cornwall Council Cabinet Member for Localism said: “The transfer of the lease for 18 Belle Vue is a great example of devolution in action.
“Devolution at its most worthwhile is about finding the best long term local custodians of an asset, in this case a building that is valued and used by the local community. For me being able to provide the community, and in particular the new landlords and tenants of the building, with more certainty and control over the building is just as important as making financial savings.
“I take great pleasure in being able to help Saltash Gateway CIC (Community Enterprises PL12)
, a well-established and respected organisation, realise their plans and vision for their local area. The initial lease will be for two years with a long term plan for the building to be offered to them to buy at market value; this will allow the building to remain within the community and allow it to continue to meet local need.
“I applaud the CIC for taking up the challenge and also recognise the important role Saltash Town Council has played in encouraging them to reach this position of success.”
Derek Holley, Cornwall Councillor for Saltash East said: “I am really pleased at the successful outcome of this devolution package. The revamped building will house in the centre of town a variety of local businesses and services and makes excellent use of the whole site. My thanks to the CIC and the Cornwall Council officers who supported it.”