Ecolocal has just announced that building work on The Lodge project has now started. Ecolocal, supported by the community in Carshalton*, is rightly pleased that they can now fulfill their aim of renovating The Lodge to create a thriving focal point for the local community.
Sutton Council agreed that Ecolocal should take over the lease of the Lodge in Carshalton (the former Social Services building by Carshalton Ponds) in order to keep it in the community. The Council accepted a rent at less than the market value in return for community services offered by Ecolocal.
Ecolocal plan to create a community hall and kitchen, a straw bale classroom suite, workshop facilities in the old stables, and create an office and meeting centre to support community enterprises. Their Ecocentre aims are in line with Sutton Council’s One Planet Environmental Policy.
What Sutton Council has done in transferring The Lodge as an “Community Asset Transfer” is to use a common way of keeping valuable community assets in the community – which was approved by the present Conservative Government, and is adopted by many Councils, including Tory ones.
The Conservative Government brought in legislation to encourage councils to make buildings available to local community groups on favourable terms – as long as the community benefit is sufficient to offset the loss of income. This is the case with the Lodge. The Council will retain ownership of the Lodge, protecting the Lodge Lands from re-development.
The Conservatives on Sutton Council seem to think that the only value of anything is its monetary worth. The value of The Lodge being managed by Ecolocal will be to give to residents of Carshalton a new focal point in their area, containing an Ecological Centre of excellence, which will draw people into Carshalton and help preserve our heritage.
You can find out more at http://www.ecolocal.org.uk/project-detail.php?id=124
* Notes: 1) A special meeting of Carshalton Local Committee in 2011 attended by over 70 community representatives and residents voted for Ecolocal to take over The Lodge.
2) Local consultation showed that 97% of the 699 residents who completed Ecolocal’s detailed questionnaire supported their proposals – and over 60 local groups said they would be interested in using the community facilities they intend to develop.