The BID (Business Improvement District) company, Orpington 1st has worked hard to help regeneration in the town centre and we now have a new 7-screen Odeon cinema and the first hotel, Premier Inn, both in the Walnuts Shopping Centre, at the heart of the high street. Perhaps now there will be non-resident visitors to our town, who want to enjoy more than just a night in a hotel bedroom.
Next to Orpington Station we have the small but very interesting Crofton Roman Villa and Orpington Priory (Grade II* listed) and its historic Gardens (Grade II listed) lie at the other end of the high street, Over the past few years we have seen dramatic developments, swinging from Bromley Council withdrawing from Lottery Heritage funding to refurbish the Priory to the widely disliked decision to sell the building to all-comers. We finallyseem to have arrived at an acceptable compromise, whereby the Council retain ownership of the building, thereby giving it some protection against destruction, whilst still providing the possibility of community access and opportunities for local groups to use the building and create a heritage offering.
We need to remain optimistic and ensure that community groups (particularly OPCH) engage positively with V22 going forward.
Margot Rohan - Orpington Community
Sally Pennington, Chair of OPCH, confirmed that Bromley Council has accepted OPCH as a group with a right to bid for the Priory. This has automatically invoked the remainder of the 6 month moratorium period giving the charitable trust until the 20th May to submit a business plan. The council may not sell the property during this period.
The 9 newly appointed trustees of the Orpington Priory Community Hub were introduced to local residents at a meeting at the Coronation Hall in St Mary Cray on 10 December:
- Rebecca Birs - owner of the Croft tea rooms
- David Mc Bride - Deputy Head teacher, ex councillor and Mayor of Bromley and Magistrate
- Sharon Baldwin - executive director of Orpington 1st (Business Improvement District)
- Nicky Burstow - Goff, Business Development & Finance Manager
- Eric Johnstone - Chairman of Dartford Symphony Orchestra
- Lee Regan - Events Manager, the Architectural Association
- Dr. Luke Beattie - Founder of the Hotspur Theatre Company
- Nicola Blake - RIBA architect
- Sally Pennington - member of the Orpington priory Regeneration group steering committee
Orpington Priory Community Hub was officially registered as a charitable trust at Companies House on 15 December.
The following development groups have been set up to progress various aspects of the project:
- Business Development
- Public Relations & Events
- Buildings & Infrastructure
OPRP Steering Group are interviewing Trustees this week in order to set up the charitable trust. The calibre of applicants is extremely high and with diverse skills and backgrounds.
New petition created - to show support for a community-led solution for Regeneration of Orpington Priory as an historic civic landmark for the local community - please sign now!
A charitable trust will be set up to recruit and oversee the management team which will run The Priory. If you are interested in becoming a trustee, please email, giving your contact details and relevant experience and skills. You can find out more about being a Trustee on the Charity Commission website: www.gov.uk/topic/running-charity
If you are interested in hiring rooms, have a look at our plans for the future of The Priory and let us know what your requirements would be - size of room, frequency of use, other facilities. Email your interest to OrpingtonCommunity@yahoo.co.uk or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Margot Rohan - Orpington Community
23 October 2015
Bromley Council has made the decision to offer The Priory for sale on the open market on a long lease. Decision dated 23 Oct 2015
OPRP members attended Executive & Resources Policy Development & Scrutiny Committee 8 October, where the recommendation for the sale of the building (either freehold or with a long lease) was agreed. Community-led proposals will be considered and the Committee supported the suggestion of providing the opportunity for a temporary lease allowing use of the building to test demand for room hire and events, during the 6-month sale procedure.
Sam Webber's letter to the News Shopper hits the nail on the head regarding the Council's apparent attitude to anything not Bromley, despite the area of Orpington (the prior Orpington Urban District Council) constituting nearly half the borough:
On the day Bromley Museum closed its doors at The Priory forever, there was more than usual interest. Orpington District Archaeological Society had a number of publications on local history on sale and made numerous sales. Many visitors had never been to The Priory before and had been unaware of its and the Museum's existence. It really is a pity that on the day of the Museum's closure people flocked to see what they had been missing and were sad to learn of its demise. It merely emphasises how important good signage and marketing are in order to promote a valuable community asset and ensure that least residents are aware of the cultural assets in their local area.
Margot Rohan - Orpington Community Click here to see the 26 Museum posters which were displayed
#SaveTheOrpPriory Campaign Group submit Outline Proposal to Bromley Council
The campaign group is working on developing a sustainable business plan for the future of The Priory. An outline proposal has been sent to the Council in the hope it will inform the debate on the Bromley Museum and The Priory item on the agenda for the Executive on 10 June.
At the 11 February Executive, the Leader of the Council, Stephen Carr, announced that, due to public outcry, as evidenced by the 1,600 signatures collected by an e-petition within a week, the Council's decision on the future of Bromley Museum and The Priory was being deferred, pending further consultation.
The agenda for the Executive on 10 June includes an officer's report which has four recommendations, two of which are:
- The cessation of the museum service at the Priory, Orpington, and the provision of new museum exhibitions at Central Library, Bromley, managed by Local Studies and Archives;
- The Priory is declared surplus to operational requirements with effect from 1 October 2015 and, subject to further work by Strategic Property Services on other Council uses for the building, authority is given to offer the property for sale on the open market.
For consultation meetings, the Council insisted on splitting the campaign group into factions:
- Business (Orpington 1st)
- History (Bromley Heritage & Arts Forum, an umbrella organisation for local history, arts and heritage societies)
- Education (representatives from local schools)
- Community (‘Orpington Community’ (Margot Rohan), Friends of The Priory & Gardens, local residents’ associations and some individual residents)
An outline proposal for the future of The Priory and the latest e-petition stats (2679 Bromley borough residents) have been sent to Bromley Council from the #SaveTheOrpPriory campaign group, in the hope that they will inform the debate at the Executive on 10 June.
But will Bromley Councillors ignore Orpington residents' (and others') indignation at their assumption that the community cannot find appropriately experienced people to take over management of The Priory? Or will they take on board that the population represents ONE THIRD of the borough and local opinions should be taken into consideration more seriously?
Bromley is not the centre of the universe of this borough. Orpington has been sadly neglected for too many years and local residents are fed up with the area being decimated and dismissed as an unimportant town in the borough. It will rise like the Phoenix - Orpington deserves better.
Orpington1st, the BID (Business Improvement District) company, is working stoically to regenerate and improve the town centre. Residents should show their support and pride in the town.
There are myriad examples of successful regeneration of old and listed buildings for use as museums, heritage centres, wedding venues, conference and function rooms and other activities which allow community access and proper maintenance. Below are links to the websites of some of them:
A 17th century example of a successfully regenerated building near Bath. It is currently undergoing major roof repairs but remaining open to the public who can partake of a roofwalk.
Now privately owned, this 18th century house in St Mary Cray has been diligently restored and is available for conducted group tours – and sometimes for private functions – by arrangement. It is also usually one of the delights of the Open House London weekend.
Pendle Heritage Centre
near Burnley, Lancashire
This historic farmhouse at Barrowford is a Grade II listed building, dating from 1461. It is used as local history museum, with cottage and 18th century historic gardens. It is part of the Heritage Trust for the North West established in 1977.
Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre
At 10-13 Preston Street, Faversham, it incorporates a local history museum, visitor information centre and heritage bookshop (but there are no refreshment facilities). It is part of the Faversham Society, a charity and company limited by guarantee, formed in 1962.
The Alexander Centre
An impressive Victorian building at 15-17 Preston Street, it is used for local business and leisure activities, weddings, training courses, classes, fairs and support groups. It also includes Swale Council customer services. It was a government asset transfer in 2010 and is managed by a CIC trust.
Lytham Heritage Centre
A Victorian Grade II listed building, this was originally built in 1899 for the Manchester and County Bank and later used by the Trustees Savings Bank. It is now an exhibition centre, managed by an educational charity which was established in 1987.