The money shot!
I say to Rach and Jess "can we have a pic to go with our blog about £300k of Investment for Watchet?" This is what I get....
It seems we've been doing pretty well these last few months in terms of getting funding into Watchet and developing projects. We've always known that the East Quay project would be a long term plan; so in some ways there have been some benefits in the project slowing down somewhat this year, as it has allowed us to concentrate more fully on other projects throughout the town. Since January we have: Won over £300k in funding for 5 projects for Watchet, agreed designs and have been granted planning permission for the Boat Museum Visitor Centre Project, achieved ‘Preferred Bidder’ status for East Quay from West Somerset District Council, built a pavilion at Splash Point pleasure gardens in 3 days with 50 volunteers, been successful in forming a Watchet Coastal Communities team with the District Council, set up a new project called Watchet Community Makers and a new social club called Makers Club.
All these projects reflect Onion Collective’s objectives, which were created following the extensive public consultation in 2014 and, following from what people told us were needed for Watchet, comprise of helping to: Improve tourism, develop community strength and well-being, encourage enterprise, nurture a ‘making culture’, celebrate our cultural and maritime heritage and improve public space. All of the projects we undertake must help to develop some (if not all) of these objectives. They represent the guiding principles for all Onion Collective work, and for how we believe we can help to create a stronger future for Watchet.
£243k of funding from the EDF Mitigation Fund was awarded to the Boat Museum project, and planning permission was awarded in August. The project will carry out refurbishment work on the existing goods shed and build a Visitor Centre extension, housing new civic office space and a taxi cab office. Tender documents have been sent out to construction firms, with appointments to be made in November.
In September a grant of £46k was awarded from money raised by HealthWell CIC through the Health Lottery, for a project called Watchet Community Makers. Over 2 years those wishing to learn carpentry, building and construction skills will be invited to volunteer and join a group led by experienced builder Iain Lambert. Community groups will be invited to bid for projects around the town, where the Makers group will design, build or fix projects that need doing. This way the volunteers will learn by doing, and collect a wide variety of skills based in this practical, hands on, real world method of learning. The project also means that slowly areas of Watchet could be improved for everyone to enjoy. We are looking for volunteers to be involved in this project, so if you are interested please contact Naomi at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested and would like to find out more, come to Makers Club on the 2nd Tuesday of every month. This month on Tuesday 13th October Blacksmith Dot Kuzniar will be talking about her work as an artisan blacksmith in West Somerset. Makers Club will be at 6.30pm, at the Esplanade Club in Watchet, all welcome.
In July it was announced that the Watchet Coastal Communities Team led by Onion Collective, in partnership with West Somerset District Council was successful in winning £10k from the Coastal Communities Fund towards improving tourism strategy and implementing a new framework and vision to encourage more visitors to the town. This strategy will be developed with numerous stakeholder organisations within Watchet.
On the first weekend in September 50 local Watchet people got together and built a pleasure garden pavilion in just 3 days, in a workshop led by architect Piers Taylor, timber engineer Charley Brentnall and landscape architect Mar Dix of LT Studio. Funded by Big Lottery’s Awards for All, the workshop was ‘design as you build’ meaning that although we had a design principles for the pavilion, no one really knew what it would look like, or how it would be built. The point was that together, as a collaborative group solutions are found, mistakes are made and everyone can contribute ideas to how to make the structure sound. The result was an incredibly empowering process, of pooling skills, sharing ideas and everyone working unbelievably hard in a joint and supportive effort to build something amazing for our community. We now have a remarkable looking structure that can be used for stargazing, music events, parties, picnics, theatre productions and for simply sitting and enjoying the view. You can read more about the project here: http://www.onioncollective.co.uk/#!pleasure-garden/c1zfc
And so, what next? Next we focus on getting our Boat Museum, Visitor Centre built. We develop the Watchet Community Makers project, and we will apply for more funding to further landscape the pleasure gardens and hold a programme of exciting events up there in 2016. Once the issue of the boat shed on the East Quay has been resolved (a matter entirely between the Council and the Marina), we will invite further negotiations with Watchet Harbour Marina, however until that time we will concentrate on our other projects. There’s a huge amount of work to do, but with your help, and input from our wonderful local community, 2016 looks set to be a pretty exciting year for Watchet.