Issue 72 - November 2010

Issue 71 - August 2010

Issue 70 - May 2010

Issue 69 - February 2010

The Ravensbury story continues. LB Merton are taking legal counsel's opinion. Counsel has summarised the facts based on the paperwork he has seen, and has identified what other information he needs. We have been only too happy to help fill the gaps, and are now awaiting further developments.

Hopefully more positive news next time.

Issue 68 - November 2009

Ravensbury We are in the unusual position of sitting back and letting events take their own course at Ravensbury. Under Ingrid Lackajis’ leadership, the team at Merton have now got the bit between their teeth and are actively pursuing the freeholder to complete the works. It is a great shame that Secure Reversions can not understand how willing to help we have been over the 13 years, and now they will have to complete the works alone.

So that the scope of the problem the freeholder is facing can be seen, it is worth pointing out that the disability access (which we would have agreed to do with a cash contribution at the beginning) is now out of our reach, so the freeholder will have to do it. Various guesstimates have been made, but it will certainly mean a 5 figure sum out of his pocket.

The damp inside the building is not as bad as it might have been, but remedial works are required, as are repairs to the roof and guttering - another 5 figure sum in all probability.

The freeholder is now incurring business rates on the empty building under the new rules, and that must be mounting up.

We believe the cost of the wheelhouse works, if not co-sponsored by ourselves, could easily be another £25,000.

They also face legal costs of the enforcement, so a job that could have been done fairly cheaply 10 years ago will be costing close to £100,000.

If I was them (and this is me speaking, not the Museum!) I would be negotiating a transfer of this building to Merton in exchange for a release from the s106 and a small cash contribution (he has already spoken about £16,000).

This would properly restore the property to local control, and would enable us to seek grant money for the whole restoration job (you will recall we can’t get grants for works which are the legal obligations of others, but the transfer to Merton would break that cycle).

Issue 67 - August 2009

Ravensbury Mill - The long struggle towards opening the Museum in Ravensbury continues. After the flurry of activity in January, when a plan to help the freeholder comply with his obligations seemed to have emerged, things seemed to have slowed again.

The gaping hole in the gutter seen from underneath LB Merton is continuing to push for the freeholder to complete the s106 work, and the general state and condition of the building, after its 13 year wait, is beginning to cause concern.

Passers by will have noticed that the guttering is still broken, and the amount of moss growing from the brick work evidences the damp that must be cured..

Our position remains simple - give us the building in the state envisaged by the s106 agreement, and we will take it.

It is abundantly clear that lottery money is too hard to get, so we will apply for smaller grants, and do the work piecemeal. One of the grants for which we will need to apply urgently, once we know that the building is at last to be ours, is for a complete upgrade to the accessibility options - what was OK 13 years ago no longer cuts any ice.

On the plus side, the tumbling price of electronics will give us a much improved, and dynamic, display, while we can exploit the space to deliver our increasing support work for the National Curriculum, as well as for other voluntary groups around Merton.

Last but not least, increasing government support for micro power generation should enable us to exploit the power of the Wandle to demonstrate how eternal water power is as an asset for us all.

Issue 66 - May 2009

Ravensbury Mill - after the flurry of activity over the winter, things have gone quiet again, but with Cllr Maurice Groves pushing to ensure files no longer go to sleep, matters are still bubbling on under the surface. Essentially the task is to find a way to harness grant moneys available from English Heritage so that we can restore the wheels at the same time as the freeholder is completing the s106 works.

Unfortunately our earlier plan of requiring the freeholder to lead the contract seems to have been reversed into one in which we are to take the lead, and merely receive additional funding from the freeholder to cover his s106 portion of the costs.

The current halt has been occasioned by the apparent lack of a specification for the outstanding s106 work which we can give to our contractors for a proper quote, and without which we can not make a grant application. We assume that spec exists, because the freeholder has previously received quotes for the work, but it has not yet been forthcoming. Hopefully it will emerge, and we can then start rolling again.

Issue 65 - February 2009

Ravensbury Mill Project

There has been a sudden spate of activity on Ravensbury Mill.

Constant pressure from LB Merton eventually lead to a meeting last December where Paul Church, representing the freeholders Secure Reversions Ltd, reacted to a proposal that was made by English Heritage (that he would apply for a grant for the restoration of the water wheels, and build the completion of the ceiling of the waterwheel enclosure into the bid with our support) with a proposal of his own - namely that we would proceed to take a lease of the whole site apart from the wheel enclosure, and make our own bid, with his financial support, to do the same.

We were, obviously, excited about this, and there was an outside chance we could have signed the lease by 31 March.

As one might expect, life is more complicated than that. A subsequent joint inspection of Ravensbury threw up a number of problems with which we would have to deal.

The two major problems were the continuing damp in the Eastern section of Ravensbury (partly caused by constant splashing from the road, part by gutter defects and part unexplained).

The other problem concerns access. If we were to operate from the Eastern section alone while work was being done to the Western end, the only access is through a street door that has, patently, no chance of qualifying under modern accessibility standards.

Our position remains the same - we do not sign a lease until we can do so without an immediate and enforceable obligation on us to pay out capital we do not have. That said, however, there is scope for us to push ahead. We have contacted the millwrights who provided the original quotes for the waterwheel restoration, and are only awaiting the detailed quote for the ceiling work that Mr Church holds, to be able to finalise figures for an English Heritage grant.

Once this has been done, and if it becomes clear we will get that money, there is no reason why we should not be able to put together a plan which would enable us to be in Ravensbury at last.

We will keep you posted!

Issue 64 - November 2008

Ravensbury The story of Ravensbury is like the oft repeated description of swans - apparently motionless, but feet paddling furiously out of sight under the water line. Nothing has apparently happened with Ravensbury, but the ongoing efforts of LB Merton officers, and the interest of English Heritage, have produced a possible solution which may break the deadlock of the outstanding s106 works at Ravensbury, completion of which is essential if we are to sign the lease. Hopefully more next newsletter.

Heritage Lottery Fund A positive occurrence has been that the draft agreement between HLF and LB Merton has now been approved, and we are now, after 4 years of deadlock, once again free to pursue a major heritage grant.

As mentioned in previous reports, we are indebted to the help Kate Hebditch of MLA has been giving us in the accreditation process. She has also kindly looked at our provisional application for HLF funding for Ravensbury. She has most strongly advised that we should seek some smaller grants first, to prove to HLF that we are competent to manage the process, and safe in our application of funds. This advise is too sensible to ignore, and we are seeking an appropriate avenue to pursue.

Issue 63 - August 2008


In the last couple of weeks our eventual move to Ravensbury has taken an enormous step closer.

You will no doubt recall that one of our problems has been that a change in rules by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) about the type of lease a heritage body needs to have before it can apply for a major grant stopped our last application in its tracks. After some persuading from us, HLF bent over backwards to bend their rules, and agreed we could move on provided LB Merton signed a simple agreement with them. Extract from Note prepared for MLA as part of our accreditation process

Ravensbury Mill. We are the named beneficiaries of a s106 agreement that compels the freeholder to grant us a lease for 125 years at a peppercorn for a fully renovated building. Effectively we already have a 'signed tenure' for that building, it is just we choose not to move in whilst works are outstanding.

That choice is for very sound financial reasons. Once we sign the lease itself, we become bound by its covenants, and any that the freeholder has left unperformed would become contractually ours. We estimate that the costs associated with completion of works may come to £50,000. As you will know, grant money is never available to plug the hole for a third party's financial obligations. They provided the draft for this in 2005, and at a meeting a few days ago LB Merton have confirmed to HLF that they will be happy to sign this document as a pre condition to us receiving major grant funds.

At last we can move forward, and with Cllr Maurice Groves pushing hard for resolution of the s106 problem (see box), there may yet be light at the end of the tunnel.

Needless to say the HLF rules for major grant applications has changed in the last 3 years. In a development from the early days, when only large organisations with trained staff were likely to overcome the technical complexities of application, HLF had introduced Project Planning grants (up to £50,000) so organisations like ours could employ someone to do this for us. HLF had advised, in effect, that it was a lack of those skills which had failed our first two bids, and were politely suggesting this as the way forward. It was in the course of this application that the bombshell about the lease stopped us in our tracks.

Now that too has gone to be replaced by a 3 stage process. The first (not obligatory) stage is the pre-application. This is meant to be a relatively simple form a review of which allows HLF to indicate to prospective applicants whether they are wasting their time. This form includes the helpful summary: "To receive a grant your project must: - Help people to learn about their own and other people's heritage. Your project must also do either or both of the following: - Conserve the UK's diverse heritage for present and future generations to experience and enjoy. - Help more people, and a wider range of people, to take an active part in and make decisions about heritage."

Although this looks obvious, and a shoe-in for us, we are taking no chances and starting to put this form together. This is not as simple as it could be, and requires levels of detail intended to prove we already know what we are talking about, and that our aims are clear.

This is a bit of a volte face, because it reverses what they advised us when our last bid failed - one of the main benefits of the Project Planning grant was to get specialist help to test whether (amongst other things) our aim of moving to Ravensbury was right for us. Now our pre-application form asks us to be quite specific about what we are trying to do.

A successful pre-app then leads to a stage 1 bid. This is roughly equivalent to the Project Planning bid, except that the forms and documentation used can be re-used, fully implemented, in the stage 2 bid.

Some of the rules have changed in our favour, in that the old limit of £500,000 for grants which can be reviewed by the quarterly HLF committee meetings has now been raised to £1,000,000. Above that figure the relevant committee meets only annually. It is not that we will bid that high - the £500,000 budget for the last bid may still be all we need, but that we will look more like an average bid, rather than a special one which pushes the limits. In a further development HLF will now assign us a mentor (previously they were meant only to assess bids, and therefore felt they could not actively assist in the preparation).

On the downside, London 2012 has resulted in a halving of the budget for our class of bids, so we must be even more competitive if we are to proceed, highlighted by the warnings now Issued that achieving a stage 1 bid successfully in no way increases the odds for a successful stage 2 bid (the opposite of the equivalent position 3 years ago).

Our pre-app document will be reviewed by the committee in our meeting later in September, and the HLF should let us know that we can progress quite quickly after submission.

If all goes well by this time next year we could be waiting for the results of our stage 1 bid!

Extract from Note prepared for MLA as part of our accreditation process

Ravensbury Mill. We are the named beneficiaries of a s106 agreement that compels the freeholder to grant us a lease for 125 years at a peppercorn for a fully renovated building. Effectively we already have a 'signed tenure' for that building, it is just we choose not to move in whilst works are outstanding.

That choice is for very sound financial reasons. Once we sign the lease itself, we become bound by its covenants, and any that the freeholder has left unperformed would become contractually ours. We estimate that the costs associated with completion of works may come to £50,000. As you will know, grant money is never available to plug the hole for a third party's financial obligations.

Issue 62 - May 2008


The situation at Ravensbury remains overcast, but there is a small speck of blue sky to provide hope. Cllr Maurice Groves has been tireless in keeping this unsatisfactory position in front of the various officers at Merton. This has reached the extent that there is now a six weekly meeting of all relevant officers, who are obliged to bring progress reports to each meeting. This should have the long awaited effect of our file being close to the top of their in trays, and not stuck at the bottom.

The two parallel problems remain the same in the interim - Merton has still not agreed the document that HLF needs to enable us to move forward with our lottery application, and builders have still not bee instructed to complete the s106 works. I had a conversation with Simon Williams, Director of Housing and Environment at LB Merton, and the person responsible for overseeing this effort, that progress is now being made and that we will be kept informed of progress. We hope we may now start holding our collective breath.

Issue 61 - February 2008

Ravensbury Although nothing concrete to report, what we can say is that Cllr Maurice Groves has been keeping up sustained pressure on our behalf, and it looks like it may, at least, be bearing fruit.

English Heritage have become involved, helping the freeholder to source builders able and willing to carry out the remaining works, and the Merton Planning enforcement office remain on the case.

We have many concerns, not least the way we are excluded from all the meetings and consultations which are ongoing, and the fact that, two years after first having it referred to them, the Merton Legal department has still not got to grips with the HLF documentation.


by Ray Leyden

I attended a Micro- Hydro seminar hosted at Crabble Corn Mill, on the River Dour, in Kent on Thursday 24th January 2008 and organized by The British Hydropower Association (BHA) to listen to Hydro basics and gain the Environment Agency perspective along with Case Studies to see how it could be applied to Ravensbury Mill.

Add ... Energy costs, environmental concerns, security of supply etc. So, how do we find out if a hydro scheme will be feasible etc?

One of the case studies by Consultant, Segen Ltd, was the installation of such a scheme at Crabble Corn Mill where the seminar was held. We had a guided tour afterwards although the commissioning was still ongoing.

The installation was a proven success and had now become part of the Tourist attraction.

The other benefit is that with the power generated by the water it can also generate a financial income for the Site.

We would need to revisit this site to see how it has performed over a yearly cycle so that we may measure its success. If the sums add up we have made enough contacts to organize a Feasibility Study for Ravensbury Mill to see if it is viable. With Climate change it certainly would fit into the sustainable future that we all need to become a part of.

Ray Leyden 20/02/2008

Issue 60 - November 2007

There has been some movement on the Ravensbury front as well. Cllr Maurice Groves, the cabinet member under whose aegis we fall, has continued to keep up the pressure. As a result English Heritage have offered to help obtain the right specification for the outstanding works, and to help the freeholder get a builder to quote for them.

We have supplied as much information as we can to help, via Sara Williams in the LBM enforcement office, and are awaiting news of further progress.

No movement on the HLF front however. It is now over 2 years since LBM have had the agreement for approval, and over 18 months since that document has been with LBM’s legal department. Apart from one call about 9 months ago, there has been no sign this has even been looked at. However, bearing in mind the impenetrable chinese walls the LBM legal department have constructed around themselves to prevent members of the public being able to make any direct contact whatsoever, there may indeed have been plenty of activity, probably completely misdirected and misplaced, of which we have been kept in unblissful ignorance.

Issue 59 - August 2007

Issue 58 - May 2007


Very slowly things are beginning to happen. We are still awaiting input from the legal department of LB Merton approving the HLF’s suggestions which would enable us to launch a fresh bid. Hopefully that will happen soon. In the meantime the planning enforcement officers have had one meeting on site at Ravensbury and now have, we hope, the bit between their teeth!

Issue 57 - February 2007

Ravensbury Mill

Although at time of writing our follow up meeting with LB Merton has not yet happened, at the meeting in January Councillor Maurice Groves, who has Cabinet responsibility for us, promised to visit all the officers responsible for ensuring final completion of the works at Ravensbury personally, and seek to understand exactly how and when they will be able to force closure on this long outstanding point. We look forward to our further meeting with Ingrid and Maurice, when he can report on his findings.

To us it seems very simple, but LA procedures have to be followed. It is a matter of great sorrow to learn from Maurice and Ingrid Lackajis of the many meetings, and copious exchanges of emails, that we have apparently inflicted on the officers at LBM, at a time when they have so many important matters on their collective plates, not least those arising from a change in the leadership of the Council, and the budget deficits they are facing.

There must surely come a time when bodies such as ours can have direct access to the relevant officers, especially in the legal section. Not only will this cut out levels of duplicated communication within the Council, but will much reduce the possibilities of misinterpretation along the way.

Issue 56 - November 2006

Ravensbury: Through my presence at the CADAP meetings (see separate article) we have become aware that there has been a representation by the freeholder to water down its s106 obligations to complete the works at Ravensbury Mill. We will continue to monitor this, and insist that the works are done to meet the industrial standard that the wheels demand, not the residential one. The freeholder’s approach does appear cynical, in that we know the museum buildings have been locked, and the keys lost, for almost 2 years during which time its surveyors have not been able to get in, let alone obtain quotations or estimates for the work.

Our vigilance has, however, allowed damage to the Museum building at Ravensbury to be picked up early, and dealt with. First there were the broken windows facing the street, previously reported, and then, more recently, the missing roof tiles. It now appears fully wind and water tight again.

Most disappointing is that there is still nothing to report on the draft agreement presented to LB Merton by Heritage Lottery Fund. That agreement, if accepted by LBM, would allow us to reinstate our suspended lottery bid for a project planning officer. Two years have gone by since the legal technicality was discovered that this agreement remedies, and 15 months since HLF submitted their draft. Now that we are on the agenda of CADAP, it is hoped that the extra pressure will unlock whatever the problem may be.

Issue 55 - August 2006

Issue 54 - May 2006

Issue 53 - February 2006

Ravensbury/ HLF

We are still awaiting LB Merton’s approval of the documentation proposed by Heritage Lottery Fund which will enable us to start the next application process - apparently it is with their legal department at present. Hopefully more news next newsletter.

Slightly more promising is that Planning Enforcement are taking a more proactive role in persuading the freeholders to complete the works at Ravensbury Mill properly, and have written telling them that the lead lining was non negotiable.

Issue 52 - November 2005

RAVENSBURY The Property section of LB Merton has now approved the draft agreement submitted by HLF, and it is now with the Legal section.

Subject to their approval, our Project Planning Officer application, which has been on hold for almost exactly one year, can proceed.

The recent meetings of the Merton Heritage forums and our discussions with Groundwork and National Trust may mean that the brief for the PPO, and his identity, could have changed a little, but for the better.

Meanwhile Groundwork are continuing their PR campaign to interest HLF in the Wandle as a whole, and see each of the prospective applications by the different Heritage bodies as a part of a single dynamic, and we wish them luck.

As a separate issue, there has been no further movement on the necessary building works to complete the s106. Trevor Roach, who lives in the flat above the wheelhouse enclosure, faces another winter of frozen feet, escaping heat, and milk that frezes on the sideboard over night.

We wish we could do more to help, and that it doesn’t become a health and safety

Issueyas well as a building regs/planning problem.