Heritage Lottery Grant Update

Heritage Lottery Fund 

‘Commons for the Next Generation; Green Space for All’

Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators, in partnership with Wimbledon Windmill Museum, are delighted to have received a £126,100 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for an exciting heritage project:
‘Commons for the Next Generation; Green Space for All’.

 

What is the Grant for?

The award will enable work to be undertaken to better understand the challenges the Commons face as it approaches the 150th anniversary of the passing of the Wimbledon and Putney Commons Act in 1871 that brought the Conservators into being and saved the Commons for public use.

Working with the highly regarded cultural consultancy firm, Barker Langham, who were appointed following a competitive procurement process, a new masterplan for the Commons will be developed which will include a strategy to improve the financial resilience of Wimbledon and Putney Commons. The creation of a masterplan for the Commons will set out how the landscape and buildings relate to one another, looking at signage, education, volunteering, visitor facilities and landscape management.

The masterplan will be supported by a series of other documents as set out below:

·                The creation of a Conservation Management Plan

·                The creation of an Audience Development Strategy

·                The creation of a Volunteer Development Plan

·                The creation of an Education and Interpretation Plan

·                The creation of a Business Plan

·                Development of a Fundraising Strategy

·                The creation of an Evaluation Report

This project is not about delivering physical changes to the Commons, it is about understanding the challenges so that decisions about future investment can be made in an informed way, always recognising the need to retain the natural aspect of the Commons, which is its most treasured attribute.

To guide the team through the project the Conservators have developed some key principles which can be found here.

Why have we applied for this Grant?

These 1140 acres of public open space land are managed by a team of just 23 staff, led by the Chief Executive.  All of the staff have front line, operational responsibilities and there has not been the capacity to undertake this essential work in-house. A further objective of this project however is to help WPCC improve its resilience by creating the opportunity for staff to gain experience of working at a more senior level.

A critical concern in managing the Commons, recognised by previous Boards, is that there are no resources available to invest in capital projects, and little available to cover the needs of annual planned preventative maintenance. We know that there are issues with buildings, for example the Richardson Evans Memorial Playing Field’s pavilion is a large and complex building used extensively by the community. Mechanical and electrical installations are aging and need replacing and the changing rooms and general infrastructure is in need of investment, not only to be compliant with the Equality Act, but also so that they are fit for purpose in the twenty first century.

The annual cost of managing just the day to day operations for the Commons is circa £1.7M. Of this, £1.2M is generated by a Special Levy, the remainder is generated through philanthropic fundraising, events, or by use of buildings such as the tea rooms, pavilions and other facilities. This project will enable the future capital and operational costs for the Commons to be established. In looking to the future, the Conservators can then properly consider how to achieve financial stability within a framework that is sustainable, so that on-going investment can be planned.

What happens next?

This is an exciting opportunity to harness the enthusiasm of, and to engage with, the local community and ensure the Commons can adapt to the future needs of its visitors, to be more welcoming and accessible and to protect its sensitive, unique environment whilst establishing long-term financial stability and organisational resilience.

Critical to the development of the masterplan will be the involvement of and consultation with our visitors and stakeholders - those that use the Commons - and also with volunteers. We are also keen to reach out to communities who do not currently visit the Commons to better understand their barriers to entry.

There are three distinct phases to the project which commences in November 2019:

1.      Situational Analysis: This is the information gathering phase during which Barker Langham will conduct a physical audit of the Commons and gain a better understanding of the site’s rich cultural and conservation heritage. Barker Langham will undertake considerable research to understand the base-line condition of the landscape and buildings and also start visitor research.

2.      Visioning and Options Appraisal: This is the stage in which public engagement will take place. An engagement strategy is currently being prepared and further details will be included on the website. From the data and research findings, Barker Langham will start to develop a vision for the whole of the Commons with options for the development of a masterplan starting to evolve. These high-level strategic options will consider the potential across the following themes: visitor experience; funding structure; commercial and other income opportunities (with potential revenue); development of built heritage, including improving access (with outline capital costs); volunteer recruitment and retention (with possible dedicated space); interpretation and key narratives; adjustments to landscape management methods and intensive interventions (with estimated costs); and education and outreach.

3.      Masterplan Development: The Masterplan will articulate how the landscape and built assets can function together. Key to this is accessibility, both in terms of circulation within the Commons but also improving the major ‘gateways’ including the Windmill complex, REMPF and Springwell. Opportunities for ecological, social and economically sustainable activities and experiences in sympathy with the heritage of the Commons for a range of users will be detailed.

At the end of the project the Commons will host a ‘Thank-you Event’ for National Lottery players, stakeholders, consultees, general public and other National Heritage Lottery Fund supported organisations.

A copy of the application form that was submitted to the National Heritage Lottery Fund can be found here. (Names have been redacted to protect individual’s identity.)

Further information on our progress, and how you can take part in surveys
will be included here.