The initiative by the Leader of Merton Council, Andrew Judge, in bringing together the heritage groups who are looking for lottery money for their various projects, is beginning to take shape.
The core is made up of ourselves and Priory Trust as the volunteer based groups, National Trust, Groundwork and SEA Renue as the groups with funded officers, and Merton Council itself.
Meetings are now taking place, exploring those areas which are common, and identifying those areas in which conflict may arise, to ensure not only a sharing of information and research, but a series of lottery applications which form part of a coherent whole.
The links which are appearing (and each link represents a potential for conflict) are between SEA/Renue and Priory Trust, because of their common interests in their respective Merton Abbey Mills s106 agreements, ourselves and National Trust (our Ravensbury project adjoins National trust interests at Morden Hall Park, and provides a link to their Ravensbury and Watermeads sites).
Groundwork has links to us all, in their continuing interest in the Wandle Corridor, which complements Merton's continuing interest in regeneration.
The wandle.info home page
Behind all this lies the dead end into which the Heritage Lottery fund has been forced. All the projects it supports must now be proved (rather than hoped) to be sustainable. Sustainability requires bidders can demonstrate a viable financial future once the money has been spent on the capital project. For volunteer bodies this is difficult, without a link to another income generating concern, or a brilliant business plan supported by cast iron research. There appears no discretion to take the capital expenditure as a benefit in its own right, and HLF can not fund job creation as such.
We hope to be proceeding with our own Project Planning Officer bid, which will provide the business plan and research. Because our research is likely to include many of the elements that the National Trust will also need in their bid, we hope this new forum will enable this to be done in a complementary, rather than competitive way. In the meantime, all views welcome.