How the project came about….
In 2012 a Community Council led consultation led to the 2013-2018 Community Action Plan. The Community Action Plan was reviewed and renewed following further consultation in 2018 and 2019.
These plans set out themes with priorities which include:
- Celebrating our architectural heritage and our local history
- Better facilities for young people
- A big new project to underpin the revival of the community – Destination West Calder
- New job opportunities for young people
- Economic regeneration
- More services for those with Additional Support Needs
- Training and work experience for young people
- Preserving our local identity
In 2014 a Design Study identified priority projects including a redevelopment of The Old Coop Bakery/The Workspace and West Calder & Harburn CDT started looking at the potential for one project that delivered on several of these themes
Further Community Consultation in 2018 included:
- A community survey, completed by 132 people
- A wider survey focusing on this project, with 446 responses
- Two public consultations – at Fireworks Night and the
- Christmas Fayre (we spoke to 188 people)
- A focus group with 13 local residents living adjacent to the site
- Conversations with stakeholders including local community groups, West Lothian Council, businesses and schools (we spoke to representatives of over 11 local organisations) We developed an Options and Feasibility Report and a Design Report:
Our research and learning visits suggested to us that there was a real potential for a national level celebration of Scottish co-operative history like there is in England and that people would travel to visit a new fun, family-friendly heritage visitor attraction in West Lothian.
In 2018 we also held a 10-day Coop Heritage Festival where people could comment on options for the building and project.
We learned that:
- A majority wanted to see the building developed rather than demolished
- 82% of people supported the idea of a big “Destination Project” in the building
- Our community has a real interest in local co-operative history and that it continues to mean a lot for many people
- Hands-on interaction with heritage works well for a wide range of abilities and for people with autism and special needs
- People thought that a national-class attraction could work in West Calder
- People wanted a new, accessible and family-friendly eatery
- People wanted a celebration of local heritage – including the co-op
Securing funding and ownership
In 2019 we started the process of negotiating ownership of the building to ensure it wasn’t demolished and so we could start to raise funding to redevelop it. This culminated in WCHCDT purchasing the building at the end of 2020. We also started applying to key funders like the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) and the Scottish Governments Regeneration Capital Growth Fund (RCGF).
Our applications were knocked off course by Covid but finally paid off in 2022 when we achieved funding from NLHF to conduct a detailed Development Phase and were invited to apply to RCGF.
From Summer 2022 to Summer 2023 we have:
- Been developing detailed designs
- Held consultation events with a wide range of people
- Trialled activities with families, kids and people with autism and additional support needs
- Successfully secured funding from RCGF and Historic Environment Scotland
- Developed a detailed business plan
- Developed strong relationships with local and national partners
The next steps
- Planning permission
- Community Share offer
- Finalising the funding package
- Contracting initial works