Tuesday, March 5, 2013
A Bideford Town Councillor is hoping to transform a historic building into a new hub for the town’s visitors.
A BUILDING believed to be the birthplace of Sir Richard Grenville could be turned into a visitor centre for Bideford if funding is secured.
At Bideford Town Council’s full meeting on Thursday, Councillor David Howell asked the council to pledge its support to turn the buildings at 1-3 Bridge Street into a two-storey visitor centre.
He said no financial commitment would be made yet, but the council would give a conditional pledge to make a ‘significant and meaningful contribution to the future purchase and conversion of the premises’.
The plans would have a visitor centre on the ground floor and a community skills development area on the first floor.
The area upstairs would allow people to learn new skills and could even become a subsidiary location for Petroc, said Cllr Howell.
It is estimated the purchase of the building would cost around £300,000 but Cllr Howell said he hoped to be able to raise this amount through funding.
He said: “This pledge will allow fundraising to begin with some credibility.
“I have got two years left as a town councillor and if the pledge is made I will commit to take the lead on this project for that time.”
Despite voting unanimously to pledge its support, some members of the council raised concerns over whether the site was appropriate for a visitor centre.
Councillor David Brenton said: “The trouble with the building that’s being proposed is firstly that it’s a dead end.
“When you look up Bridge Street you see two no entry signs.”
But Councillor Trevor Johns disagreed, saying with good signage the visitor centre could ‘come to life’.
Last year, the Gazette revealed the historical discovery made by Grenville historian and Bideford town councillor Andy Powell and historical researcher David Carter.
A coat of arms was discovered on the wall by the owners of the building, which led to further investigations by the historians.
The famous sea captain, who died battling the Spanish Armada in 1591, would have been celebrating his 471st birthday this year.
Cllr Powell said the owners of the building would give the council first refusal on purchasing the property.
The first step would be to have a proper valuation done on the building, said Cllr Howell.