DORSET COUNTY Council is to press for Bridport’s Literary and Scientific Institute to be sold, says the Bridport Area Development Trust.
The next High Court hearing about the future of the historic building in East Street will be on September 1.
Questions concerning the ownership and purpose of the Institute have been debated since the 1990s. At the start of this year, the High Court ruled that Bridport people should be given chance to work up ideas for using the Grade II* Listed Building.
After six months of hard work, campaigners proposed that the Institute could become a new home for Bridport’s museum and a discovery centre for local industrial and cultural heritage, particularly focused on West Dorset’s centuries-old manufacture of rope, net and twine.
A move by Dorset County Council simply to sell the building would consign campaigners’ efforts to the bin.
The latest draft version of the proposal prepared for Bridport Area Development Trust by Crystal Johnson is rich in interest and ideas and can be read as a PDF by clicking here
Bridport town councillor Charles Wild, who’s been leading local efforts with Crystal Johnson, said: “We understand that at the hearing they intend to press to be given permission to dispose of the building by putting it on the open market, thereby dismissing the progress we have made in the past six months.
“If successful, this action of the County Council would ensure that neither the current proposal or any other community proposal for the building could succeed, because once the building is on the open market it would not be eligible for capital funding from many of the major funding bodies.
“We are attempting to negotiate, on behalf of the Bridpport Area Development Trust, with the County Council, and I am seeing Oliver Letwin MP on Friday seeking his support, but if the Court hearing goes ahead on 1 September, we intend to ensure that the project proposal will be considered as part of the evidence, and hope that this will persuade the High Court to allow further time for us to move on to the project development phase.
“We have received a number of expressions of support, including from English Heritage and from West Dorset District Council, the Local Planning Authority, both of whom have interests in trying to secure a future for the building which preserves and protects its historic interest, as well as the community interest, as this proposal does.”
Comment from Dorset County Council is being sought.