We have crystallized our vision around the concept of an “exemplar” building. It will be an exemplar building in terms of its ecological footprint, in terms of its ownership and management by the community and for the community, and in terms of its inclusivity – owned and used by the whole community and not just a particular part of it. It will provide a breathing space and a beating heart for the whole community.
How are we to achieve this? We have a funding team looking at seedcorn grants and longer term grants. We are gathering expressions of interest from social and commercial enterprises in the area, to calculate our potential rent income, and we are getting a lot of positive responses. Our consultants are performing a Social Return on Investment calculation. We are not a commercial concern but our project will bring great benefits to the area and this will be shown by the social return on investment calculation. We believe that we qualify for the Asset Transfer scheme. We know that in Leeds this scheme has had a slow start but we feel that some momentum is gathering. We note in the Executive Board minutes that the Bangladeshi Community Centre is to be offered a 50 year lease with a peppercorn rent and at less than best consideration. We want something similar to that.
The sticking point in all this is that the council’s terms are entirely commercial. We are not a commercial concern and so we seem to be constructively dismissed from the process. We ask that Leeds City Council rethink this.