The project aims to restore Martock’s 18th centuryMarket House and convert it into a modern and welcoming Community Office facility in a central location. This will be a one-stop shop providing a comprehensive information/community feedback point and access to a range of advice, information and training services under one roof for all members of the local community, new and prospective residents and visitors to the town. Phase 1 of the project funded a Feasibility Study. During Phase 2, the project has confirmed the final design and is carrying out the building works for the conversion including fitting out the building to modern standards, but in keeping with its architectural heritage.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Project Update June 2008
The small market town of Martock in South Somerset has a wealth of beautiful old buildings built in golden stone and owned by the parish. They are also listed and because they are also largely inaccessible they are of limited value to the wider community. The Parish Council decided to tackle this conundrum of plenty of buildings but nowhere to use. They successfully applied for £10,000 from the Rural Renaissance Access to Services programme to fund a feasibility study into converting Martock’s Market House into a Community Office.
With positive results from the study the Parish Council obtained a further £50,000 from the programme to support the capital costs of conversion. This matched the support of South Somerset District Council and the Parish Council. The group has had a busy 6 months obtaining planning permissions, designs and contractors as well as the not insignificant matter of applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for £190,000 to complete the funding package. The timely HLF award has enabled the project to be undertaken in one phase, with both floors converted and a lift installed. Work began on site in early March 2008.
What appeared to the casual eye as a toilet block and rather elaborate bus shelter, with the associated anti social issues that sort of area attracts, is being transformed into a modern and welcoming Community Office facility.
Arranged throughout the interior public spaces will be a series of historical pictures, photographs, models and artifacts, along with high quality displays and interpretation boards, that provide visitors with information, not only the history and significance of the building, but also on the heritage of Martock as a whole.
A key aim of the Community Office Project is to restore and enhance Martock’s historic Market House and enable it to become the hub for access by residents and visitors to the town’s rich heritage and natural environment. The office will be the centre for the active local History Society as well as offering learning opportunities including IT and business skills. Co-ordination of activities such as car sharing and local information on recycling, home energy efficiency and low carbon lifestyles will enable Martock, and surrounding area, to tackle climate change issues more effectively.
The group is confident of attracting a large number of users. Public support has been consistently strong and a survey identified some 24 external service providers interested in using the facility eg Job Centre, Business Link, Yeovil College and Citizens Advice outreach. The Police Post will be based there, acting as the hub for Neighbourhood Watch co-ordination, and there will be strong links to the newly formed Business Association. The office will provide a venue for MP and local councillor surgeries as well as a central point for Local Authority, housing and healthy living initiatives.
The Community Office will be managed by the new full-time Parish Clerk who will also co-ordinate volunteers’ activities. The new facility is planned to open in October 2008 with the Parish Council committed to providing the ongoing running costs.