At last! Ardagh future secured for community
A plan for community management of the Ardagh in the centre of Horfield Common has finally been agreed with Bristol City Council.
Ardagh Community Trust is celebrating the achievement of a community asset transfer (CAT) lease for the management of the Ardagh site for 35 years. It signals the start of a bright new future for this much-loved public asset under community management.
The trust (ACT) is a charity set up by local people to take on responsibility for community management of the Ardagh in the centre of Horfield Common following more than nine years' activity to develop a vision for the future of the site as a public asset – and secure the funding needed to achieve it.
The successful achievement of the CAT lease is a significant milestone in the charity’s development and will enable the group to proceed with plans to ensure that the site is accessible to all, and that it serves the needs of the widest range of local people possible.
The charity aims to raise further funding to improve the quality and availability of facilities at the site.
Project manager Rob Savage said: “We are absolutely delighted to get to this pivotal stage in the regeneration of the Ardagh. Hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteer hours have been invested in working tirelessly to get to this moment where we, as a community trust - working in partnership with Bristol City Council - are the proud new management for the site.
“Having secured the capital to create an all-year-round cafe and community hub space, we are thrilled to be able to get this significant project under way and excited to be able to now deliver this important first phase of the Ardagh's regeneration for the benefit of all in the local community.”
ACT grew out of a campaign by the Friends of Horfield Common begun in 2010 when the Ardagh site was threatened with disposal for development as part of the citywide Area Green Space Plan proposals. The site had been removed by BCC’s sports strategy and while it was being used by a very small number of members of a private sports club, had fallen into disrepair and was considered by the local authority to be underused, and therefore not sustainable.
Since 2010 residents have worked together to find out how the community would like to see the site better used, developed plans – working in partnership with local, citywide and national groups to ensure that these are robust - and secured funding. The plans have been informed by thousands of local people throughout this time with priorities including working to the highest environmental standards possible, ensuring accessibility for all is central, increasing facilities for people of all ages, including play facilities for children and young people and co-creation and partnership working with other groups across the area high on the agenda.
The group set up a community café in a previously disused external goods yard at the Ardagh in 2015, to begin to reanimate the site and demonstrate its value to the local community. Since then, regeneration of the site has begun in earnest with hundreds of volunteers involved in projects and activities which help to improve the facilities, and encourage increased numbers of residents to use and enjoy the facility.
Ardagh Community Trust has secured funding through Power To Change’s Community Business Fund, which will enable it to renovate part of the inaccessible and dilapidated pavilion at the site to create a new café and community hub and create new, fully accessible public toilets including a changing places facility which will provide suitable facilities for all members of the community.
The charity is continuing to work with the city council and partners including Sport England to develop plans for improved formal sports and informal play facilities in response to need in the area – specifically for accessible play facilities. Additionally, the group is seeking funding to improve the formal gardens and to bring these back into full use as public gardens.
The charity is recruiting trustees who can help achieve its aims. If you would like to get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information. Ardagh Community Trust invites you to join trustees, staff and volunteers on Saturday September 7 from 1-4pm to celebrate the achievement of the community asset transfer lease and to contribute your ideas and feedback into planning for a bright, community-led & managed future for this much-loved public asset.
To find out more see www.theardagh.com