We were delighted to learn at the end of November that our first round application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a major grant has been successful. £67,000 has been awarded to fund the development stage when, assisted by various consultants, we will work up the second round application for the full cost of building conservation works, and an activities and interpretation programme.
The trustees are very grateful to HLF for endorsing our plans for the conservation and improved presentation of the mill, and also to Copeland Community Fund, who have agreed to provide match funding of £5,000. We are particularly pleased that refurbishment of the now vacated mill cottage has been accepted as part of the work to be funded, even though our intention to use it again as accommodation for a resident miller/custodian takes it outside the scope of HLF’s usual guidelines. The cottage is an integral part of the site, and badly in need of repair to bring it up to an acceptable standard.
At the time of writing, we have not yet been able fully to publicise the award, or to thank individually the many people and organisations who gave us invaluable letters of support, or assisted in other ways. Notification of our first round pass was followed by a start-up meeting, which could not be arranged until 15 January, and then by a further application for permission to start work, which is currently still pending. HLF have appointed a mentor, Kate Dickson, a freelance heritage consultant, whose experience and expertise will guide us through the development stage. Following a helpful meeting with Kate at the mill on 26 February, we have submitted some amendments to our project management and procurement proposals and a revised budget allocation.
Once permission to start has been secured, we will invite competitive tenders from potential project managers, the first consultants to be appointed. They will then assist us as we move on to the appointment of conservation engineers and activities/interpretation consultants, and commission further work on a business plan.
We had originally hoped to complete the development stage and to submit our second round application to HLF by August this year, but in view of the delayed start we are now aiming to submit in November, for decision early in 2017. We have also to work up a second application to Copeland Community Fund, for a much larger tranche of match funding.
After the pattern of modest background activity which followed the Trust’s formation and its acquisition and leasing out of the mill, these are challenging times for EMHT. We know our organisation and commitment needs to move up several gears. HLF’s emphasis not just on the maintenance of buildings, but on providing a stimulating experience which people will enjoy, is entirely consistent with EMHT’s charitable objects, carried out for the public benefit. It is an exciting and worthwhile challenge, and without doubt the right thing to do to secure the mill’s future.