Proposal for the restoration of the Old Rectory Stables

The Old Stables in Wilmslow is one of our few remaining historic buildings, and yet it has been unused for many years. Cheshire East Council has recently advertised that the building is available for rent. Members of the Wilmslow Trust and Transition Wilmslow visited the building, and have ascertained that the building is generally quite sound, but would require some renovation and repair to make it usable.

An outline bid has now been made to Cheshire East to transform the stables into a Community Hub. There is space for a meeting room that could seat 30-40 people, which would also be a fantastic exhibition space for information on our local heritage (Lindow Man and Alan Turing), a venue for the town’s very successful Art Trail and for local artists and makers to exhibit and sell their work. There’s even plumbing and a small kitchen area, together with room for an office and storage.

It is perfectly situated, on the walking route from the station to the town and has good access to buses and car parks. It is also on one level, so ideal for people with disabilities. It could form the focal point of a revitalised corner of the Rectory Fields/Alderley Road with opportunities for environmental improvement to adjacent areas and where there is also a proposal from the Wilmslow Trust for a memorial to Alan Turing.

The first question people ask is “where’s the money coming from?” Clearly local councils have no money for this sort of project, but there are good examples of community ownership and fundraising. People in Poynton recently raised a very significant sum for refurbishment of their community space by crowd funding, and Styal have a thriving community shop (Earlam’s) as a result of a similar strategy. One possibility is that we raise funds through Community Shares (www.communityshares.org.uk) .

An outline bid has been submitted by members of Transition Wilmslow and the Wilmslow Trust to Cheshire East Council this week in time for today’s closing date. The proposal will need further input from everyone in the community, who can contribute ideas, time and skills as well as funding. There may also be local organisations who might want to help with some of the building and restoration. Outline plans were presented to the Wilmslow Partnership meeting this week who are supportive because this proposal fits well with ideas for a proposed Neighbourhood Plan.

We’d really like to know what you think and hear your ideas for a Wilmslow Community Hub. This needs to be a real community initiative, with people contributing their ideas. It will only work if local people want it to. We will let you know how Cheshire East respond, and we will keep you informed of developments as they happen.

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