The Poors’land Trustees own land and buildings to the east of Slaidburn village. This charitable trust was established in 1826 to benefit the residents of Slaidburn and the surrounding villages. The income for the charity derived from agricultural rents. As returns from the land fell and the traditional buildings deteriorated the Trustees were faced with minimal income and increased liabilities.
Developing new business at the heart of a community
The Trustees main assets were a range of traditional buildings located in a prominent location overlooking the River Hodder on the fringe of Slaidburn village. Residential conversion may have been possible; however this would have been against the Trustees' desire to secure real long term benefit for the village. The proposal was therefore to convert the buildings into Community workspace and offices.
Poors'land Trust Plans
With assistance from the Rural Futures team, detailed proposals were submitted for planning alongside a significant environmental package for the farm holding. Following approval the Rural Futures team sourced and submitted full applications for capital support of the project.
The result has been to transform a liability into an asset, bringing work, people and an income back into the heart of a village. Progressively residents of rural areas have been forced to commute out of their villages to find work. By re-establishing office and workspace in the village residents have found new opportunities for working locally and bringing business into the village. Other local businesses benefit from additional trade and the Poors’land Trust has a new revenue stream which is used to support community organisations.
The building is home to eight units, encouraging new business start ups and new jobs in the area. The businesses range from an environmental consultant to a hair dresser.
An integral element of the proposal was to enter the Poors’lands’ agricultural holding into Countryside Stewardship. The site is registered as a County Biological Heritage Site. All the land was placed under long term management to enhance the existing pasture and hay meadow. In addition substantial improvement work was undertaken including the restoration of traditional boundaries such as stone walls and hedges.
The environmental qualities of the surrounding land are now part of the marketing of the rental units. The Stewardship package will also generate new income to the Trust which will be put back into the local community.