Expressing our support and empathy for the shocking eviction situation facing the people, community and enterprises at Brimscombe Mill.

Creative Sustainability colleagues are shocked and saddened to learn that the projects based at Brimscombe Mill face eviction again. We want to express our support and empathy for the infuriating situation facing the people and community based at the Mill. The Grace Network group of enterprises - The Long Table, Kids Stuff, Furniture Bank, GN and The Bike Drop – have had their home at Brimscombe Mill sold from underneath their feet. The team report that their efforts to buy the building or extend the lease have been rejected, and that the new landlord has “no interest” letting the social enterprises stay. They add that their “new community economic model is at risk of being broken apart.”

Summary

The Grace Network group of enterprises - The Long Table, Kids Stuff, Furniture Bank, GN and The Bike Drop – have had their home at Brimscombe Mill sold from underneath their feet. The team report that their efforts to buy the building or extend the lease have been rejected, and that the new landlord has “no interest” letting the social enterprises stay. They add that their “new community economic model is at risk of being broken apart.” This is close to our hearts at Creative Sustainability. The building that hosts our five community programmes is also up for sale, though the owner is very much more supportive of our efforts than is the case at Brimscombe Mill. We formed Fromehall Mill Community Benefit Society last year, to raise funds through community shares, grants and loans, but it is a tough journey and the outcome is far from certain. The problem isn’t just about buildings but also about our open spaces, like The Heavens. There is clearly a common need for us all to come together to look for solutions.

Creative Sustainability colleagues are shocked and saddened to learn that the projects based at Brimscombe Mill face eviction again. We want to express our support and empathy for the infuriating situation facing the people and community based at the Mill.

The Grace Network group of enterprises – The Long Table, Kids Stuff, Furniture Bank, GN and The Bike Drop – have had their home at Brimscombe Mill sold from underneath their feet. The team report that their efforts to buy the building or extend the lease have been rejected, and that the new landlord has “no interest” letting the social enterprises stay. They add that their “new community economic model is at risk of being broken apart.”

The potential loss of 5 social enterprises and 53 jobs in the community sector will have a significant impact on local communities and the local economy. And they are not the only group of essential community-based services and activities at risk in the district.

We agree with the Brimscombe Mill team that this is “a matter of land justice”. We have witnessed the enormous amount of work and investment by the team and local community to renovate the property and make a wonderful vibrant community space. This is now “at risk of being lost due to the way land laws work and the way the “system” works.” We agree that “It doesn’t feel transparent, fair or right”.

Our local elected councillors and officers urgently need to focus on this as an issue. Whilst the District Council’s Local Plan has an objective for “Community Wealth Building” (pdf), we are really concerned about the unconsidered impact of canal regeneration, together with the Council’s economic focus on tourism. Until recently our creative and community sectors have had happy and affordable homes in our heritage buildings, now these are increasingly eyed up for prospecting on land values – and put out of the reach of our communities.

We need recognition of the economic contribution the community sector makes, the number of jobs created and the impacts of their activities on the health and wellbeing of everyone here. We need these facts to enter the conversation about local economic regeneration, investment, and resilience. With laws that favour private developers, landowners and landlords, our elected members must work together with us to safeguard the future of Stroud’s community assets for perpetuity.

This is close to our hearts at Creative Sustainability. The building that hosts our five community programmes is also up for sale, though the owner is very much more supportive of our efforts than is the case at Brimscombe Mill. We formed Fromehall Mill Community Benefit Society last year, to raise funds through community shares, grants and loans, but it is a tough journey and the outcome is far from certain. The problem isn’t just about buildings but also about our open spaces, like The Heavens. There is clearly a common need for us all to come together to look for solutions.

Brimscombe Mill community are organising two public meetings on Thursday 21st March and Wednesday 10th April. We will be attending these meetings as friends and colleagues. We encourage our supporters to read the full statement from the Brimscombe Mill team and respond to their Community Call to Action: brimscombe-mill.org.uk/warehouseupdate

With love and solidarity, from Creative Sustainability, including the Access Bike, Creative Camping, Stroud Community Hubs Strategy, 3rd Space Youth Hub, Gloucestershire Youth Climate Group, and Stroud Digital Inclusion teams.

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