Monthly Archives: December 2016
This week (Weds 14th) we formally launched the first project at a small ceremony in St George. We now have six beautiful flats almost complete, and it was time to show them off to the media.
Councillor Paul Smith, Bristol’s cabinet member for housing, cut the ribbon to open the building for inspection.
The council was not involved in this first project, but he looked forward to AEOB’s next development. “Next time, I hope I can say we did put something in”, he said. “AEOB is one of a wave of community housing initiatives that can help transform housing in Bristol.
It was a great way to mark the culmination of three years work to convert unused commercial premises into social housing, backed by community investment. The flats are built to the highest standard, with triple glazing, solar panels supplying domestic energy, and underfloor heating. Chris Askew, of Askew Cavanna Architects, said “This is an amazing achievement, building affordable accommodation that is not mean”.
That’s him below on the left, with Tony Crofts and Paul Smith on the right.
Our building nears completion, so it’s time to give it a launch. We’ll be doing that next week – when there will be a ribbon cutting and some words at the site at Battens Lane and, we hope, photos and some press coverage to link with our latest fund drive (see previous post).
That’s a small affair, because the site isn’t fit for a crowd. As some know, we were planning to follow it with an evening event to make it a larger celebration – at City Hall on the same day (Dec 14th).
However, lots of people are already committed in the week before Christmas. And we’d very much like to have the chance to thank all our investors, donors, supporters, helpers, contractors and advisers – everyone who has helped us get this far.
So, with apologies, we have decided it’s best to put the sparklier event off until the New Year. AEOB’s launch will now be in stages, NASA style. We will cut the ribbon and introduce the premises to special guests and media on Dec 14th, as already arranged. Then we shall have a proper, “thanks, and what next?” event at a date and venue to be advised.
Thanks for your understanding, and we hope to see you in 2017.
As visitors to this site probably know, our project at Battens Lane is in its final stages. Less welcome news will be that it’s become clear, as we process all the last commissions, and contractors’ claims, that we have a cash shortfall – one we did not anticipate.
It arises from multiple causes: some unexpected late costs, a hefty inflation rate in the construction industry, especially over the last 12 months, and some delays which mean that our occupation date, and hence income, has been put back a month, until January.
Please be assured that none of this jeopardises the project (or the launch, which remains scheduled for December 14th). We had a very constructive meeting with Triodos bank last week. It is not the first time they have heard of a building project with time and cost overruns at the margin, and they are happy to work with us between now and the Christmas break to agree new cost projections, and some additional finance.
Overall, the gap we need to cross is appreciable, but not unbridgeable – some tens of thousands of pounds. That is only a small fraction of the finance we have already raised. However, it will inevitably entail increasing our mortgage, hence our repayments, and reduce our scope to move expeditiously on to a new project in 2017. So key parts of our plan for the next weeks aim to reduce our demand on the bank, by combing through outstanding costs and reducing them whenever possible, and by raising any funds we can from other sources.
Which is where you may come in. Our share offer remains open, and you’ll notice that the target on our ‘Home’ page has risen to £450,000. We’re asking all our investors, donors and supporters: would you, at this point, consider finding a little extra to help us take these last steps to completion?
We know this is the time of year when other appeals will be coming your way, but it would be wonderful if you could consider this. Every little bit extra we can raise quickly now will help us come out of this first project in better shape, so that we can apply what we have learnt to do it again, and do it better.
Our deep thanks in advance for any help you can offer. We think the building when complete will be splendid, and one everyone will be proud of. If you don’t have money to invest or donate, perhaps you will have a moment, in any case, to help spread the word about this short-term funding drive.
The AEOB Board.
PS, if you know anyone who might be inclined to make a donation, they may like to know that we are now registered for Gift Aid, so any contribution will be worth 25 per cent more.