Plans for Gather at Ludlow Community Hospital explained

This is a guest post from Annabelle who is one the entrepreneurs moving into SY8 Studios in the formerly redundant workhouse and maternity unit at Ludlow Community Hospital.

In the post, Annabelle Brousse de Gersigny explains the plans for Gather and Hundred House Coffee.

The current applications (planning, licence) are open for consultation.

Hi, this is Anabelle from Gather and Hundred House Coffee.

Hundred House Coffee has been running since 2016 – we’re a small, micro roastery supporting the arts through industry. You can find out a lot more about us on our website.

Supporting the arts through industry was a founding principle of Hundred House Coffee. Weaving in the non-profit to our day-to-day activities is something that came instinctively and to which we are committed. As the business has grown, we have been looking to start a new project that is self-sustaining but involves the community – and this is where Gather comes in. We understand there are some concerns around the project and we are thankful that Andy Boddington, who has followed the project closely over the last few years, has given us an opportunity to talk about it here on his blog.

We take community concerns seriously and would really like this project to be something Ludlow can be proud of and celebrate on a site that is much loved and holds a lot of personal history for residents. On a site that was originally a school and then a maternity ward that is greatly missed, we want to ensure we run a respectful, community led, educationally driven project that really brings something original and contemporary to Ludlow.

The project is source funded by Hundred House Coffee and Gather is intended as a cowork Monday to Friday, with workshops, low key events and programming evenings and weekends. We would like the project to be self-sufficient to secure its future. We will be applying for funding for certain activities – for example, an open source kiln. We have a 10-year lease and would like to create something that lasts and serves the community long term, that remains in touch with the next generation and creative community needs.

We ourselves are fine art graduates and I have an MA in Creative Writing from the Royal College of Art. We saw a gap in provisions and support for creative development and practice. Through Gather we are providing a space for production and productivity that currently does not exist.

The workshops in particular will be run by and aimed at local makers and producers but there will also be a series for school age participants. They will be very varied, covering a few different creative practices from ceramics through to horticulture. Events will be led by local makers and members and will include artists talks, book clubs (for children and adults) and film clubs.

We do not have a bar installed, in fact all the furniture is flexible and movable. We are not opening a coffee shop or a bar. We have applied for a license that is flexible to respond to different kinds of events where the consumption of alcohol is not a priority. As a contemporary space, similar to other maker spaces and coworking communities around the world, having a license allows us to be flexible around this programming and to raise additional funds to support non-profit programming. Coworking is as much about building a community around you as it is about having a desk and cost-effective facilities to use. A drink after work is something we see happening on occasion when there is an event running – especially alongside a talk by one of our members, for example. It’s not about drinking and working irresponsibly, it’s about community building for freelancers and the ability to build programming and networking around their interests and those of the closer community. The reason ‘films’ needed to be listed is because even a small but public film club requires a license – we are not opening a cinema, we have an analogue animation studio as part of the building.

The spaces are not very big and we cannot fit more than 20 people at a time in each. The majority of people using the space will be members, though the events and workshops will be open to the wider community. We really hope to be able to fund a couple of places on each workshop to support those who are looking to broaden their horizons and learn new skills but do not have the funds to do so. As a local producer we want to support other local producers and we would like people to be able to pick up their boxes of produce from the site – this may include local breweries and distillers. This really helps local producers in terms of time and costs and is also much better for the environment. We also plan to host markets such as @localtoludlow once or twice a year. Lastly, as a roastery we’ve collaborated with breweries with our coffee, and anyone ordering their coffee beans and possibly a coffee stout for example, will buy and then pick up to take home. The off-license sales will be from 8am-6pm.

We have been open and honest about all our intentions and have been public about them at every step. We want to hear from the community with any concerns – we are more than happy to meet or chat online to discuss them in more detail. We have taken advice and guidance to ensure we do not do anything that is unregulated, unsafe, or could get in any way out of hand and affect our neighbours. We have a very good relationship with the hospital and would not in any way want to negatively impact the incredible team and their patients.

All info can be found on our website and newsletter: morethanacowork.com and please feel free to email us with any concerns or questions on hello@morethanacowork.com

We also have an Instagram full of information too – @gather.at

3 comments on Plans for Gather at Ludlow Community Hospital explained

  1. I hear what you say – and, on the face of it, what you say you are trying to do is laudable. Further, if the initiative develops successfully along the lines you talk about, I have no doubt Ludlow as a society and an economy would benefit greatly. I have no reason to doubt you, your words, your ambition and your integrity annd intent. HOWEVER. Anyone who has been involved in a new venture, particularly one that has taken on long term liabilities (eg a 10 year lease on the building), knows that often (and probably more often than not) that venture does NOT progress as planned – reality bites, personnel change, and along with then values and priorities, compromises – even fundamental changes – happen.
    I also understand that having as many flexible ‘assets’ of all sorts (including a licence – particularly one that allows for a wide variety of uses – even those most definitely not envisaged by the proposer) increases the options for evolving the organisation over time, and therefore its value.
    So – all of your fine words, and no doubt honourable intent, only carry modest weight when considering the response to an application for a licence such as yours. Dealing with hard facts and future possibilities:
    1 It seems to me that the benefits you have suggested that might be assisted by having a licence are extremely slight and cannot be central to the success of your enterprise. Most of them could be substantially delivered through other means eg in partnership with existing licenced premises or through the normal channels any other business would use.
    2. I have not reviewed the licence application in detail but I believe it asks for very wide rights that could be utilised to offer a very wide range of activities with a very wide range of participants, over a very wide range of possible hours at any time in the future.
    This being the case I would submit that the concerns, rightly expressed by so many Ludlow Residents, have not been alleviated by this statement whatsoever. Further, it appears to me that you could request a much constrained set of licence rights to meet your needs, eg much reduced hours, purposes, and numbers of people who can be accommodated and serviced. The licence to allow most of the activities you are seeking to launch need, if any, very little licenced activity. Any future extension of those licence terms, as your enterprise evolves in the future, can then be requested as a licence change, subject to the normal public and official scrutiny. I presume that changes along these lines would actually alleviate the very real public concerns and surely cannot be damaging to any development of your enterprise along the lines you describe.
    I strongly recommend that all Ludlovians that wish to retain any sort of control over the future evolution of their town and its enterprises, particularly those in sensitive buildings such as the hospital site, should object to any licence application that is not extremely limited in the activities that can be carried out without further official scrutiny and approval.

    1. Hi Andrew, Anabelle here from Gather. We absolutely appreciate your points and thank you for taking the time to think it through and provide us with some really practical feedback. From what we’ve understood and advice we have received, most enterprises go into a license application with their operating (planning approved) hours as a first step. There is then a process of review and cutting back or adding in regulations and measures. We are currently going through that process and are outlining, with their guidance, the changes that we all believe would be appropriate and alleviate concerns but importantly ensure we can safely uphold the 4 licensing objectives. If you have any further feedback, we’d like to hear it so please don’t hesitate – our email is hello@morethanacowork.com
      All best, Anabelle

  2. Let us not forget that this building is within the grounds of a hospital. With real live patients and activities around that. It is not an episode of casualty. Imagine the problems with emergency ambulances in and out of the building plus that of patients who require peace, quiet and rest. What about night duty staff and others having to negotiate the revellers? No doubt one or two will at some time have consumed too many. The whole thing is not worth a serious debate whilst Ludlow Community Hospital still has the lions share of the site. It must surely mean serious thoughts about relocation. Let no one press the wrong button on their calculator this time. Also just ask the Assembly Rooms and the Blue Boar about trying to operate a cinema and licensed premises in a reasonably profitable way.

Comments are closed.