As many of you will know the Udny Community Trust recently bought the vacant Hotel in Pitmedden. Unfortunately, the day we got the keys, the whole of the UK was put into lockdown to try and combat Covid-19 and here we all remain.
It has been a difficult few weeks for many of us for a range of different reasons but for the Trust there has been the added complication of finally reaching the end of one long race, only to be sent back into another which looks to be even longer and more difficult to negotiate. As I write there is still no end in sight, but we would like to take this opportunity to let you know some of the history and how we envisage a small part of the future.
Maybe some of you are wondering why we made the purchase in the first place?
Basically, we were following your instruction.
In one of our earlier community consultations we specifically asked the question, “Do you support Udny Community Trust’s long-term aim to own other assets that generate income for community benefit?” There was a very positive response to this with 90% saying yes.
Since then we have been looking out for suitable properties to fit the brief.
When the Property appeared on the market last Summer, we looked seriously at the possibility of purchase.
The Trust looked at alternate funding and decided that if we could secure funding from the Scottish Land Fund we should ‘go for it’.
The main difficulty was the length of time it took to complete a funding application to the Scottish Land Fund. As you would expect the process was long and involved. During the entire process, the property continued to be advertised for sale on the open market. Throughout the process we were worried that it might be bought by someone else and that the rare opportunity might be lost.
The application was in two-stages. Applications were sifted out on each stage and we were on high alert at every stage of the process.
We received invaluable advice from members of the Tarves Community who had earlier experience of this type of application. Calum Couston from Highlands and Islands Enterprise was also supportive and helpful throughout. We are very grateful for all the help and advice we received at that time.
Eventually, at the start of February we learned that our application had been successful, and we received a grant of £100,000.
There followed a period of negotiation with the seller and the deal was finally done in mid-February. Commercial sensitivity and Scottish Land Fund rules meant that we were sworn to secrecy until all the t’s were crossed and the i’s dotted. We were finally able to make the announcement on the 20th March which came as quite a relief to all concerned.
At that point we were ready to go, with lots of plans and ideas to get us up and running as fast as possible. However, Covid-19 had other ideas and, as the man said, “The best laid schemes o’ mice and men…”
In our application we were required to demonstrate that we had thought through ideas for the use of the building. One of those ideas was to create a community café. Along with moving our office into the new building, this will be our priority as soon as we can get safely back into operation.
There are lots of ideas for the use of the rest of the building, but they are a little further down the road. We can look forward to lots more discussion and ideas from the community before any definite plans get underway.
Before we take the Café 48 plans further, we want to know what you would like to see and what kind of demand there might be. We understand that it might be a little difficult to imagine sitting down in Café 48 with friends right now. We all hope that some kind of normality will resume soon, and we can at least plan for that day.
The Café 48 name was chosen because the type of Turbine we have is the Enercon E48 and we thought it an appropriate theme for the new café.
To help us gather your opinions we have prepared a 10 question, questionnaire. which should take around five minutes to complete. We would be very grateful if you could take the time to fill it in and let us know what you think. The questionnaire can be found here… https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/3DXKFFN
One very important point to note is that we do not want to clash with other volunteer activities in the parish. We aim to complement rather than detract from all your efforts, so please let us know about anything you think relevant and we will take it into consideration.
We will be looking for volunteers and will offer training and work experience for anyone interested in helping with the running of the café, so please get in touch if this is something that appeals to you. Further details will follow in due course.