At the end of last year (2015) members of the Old Spotted Dog Trust met with the lead Director of the company that now owns the Dog site.
It was an informal meeting – a chance to get to know each other – and we had an amiable exchange of views about our respective visions for the future of the site. We parted on the mutual agreement we would meet again, as appropriate, as events develop.
In brief, the company’s proposal is a low rise residential development of the rear site, with the core Dog building physically restored and then sold as a separate building.
For the Trust, we remain opposed in principle to residential rather than community development of the site. We are concerned also that the company’s funding (as described to us) can at best be described as “shadowy”, that their drive for a return on capital might lead to a cut-price restoration, and that sale of the Dog as a separate entity would be vulnerable to a subsequent ‘change of use’ planning application.
Separately, magnificent support from our friends and supporters – in the appeal and the fund raising benefit of last year – meant we pretty much reached our target for our contribution to funding a viability assessment of our proposals for the Dog and site. Unfortunately discussions with the Architectural Heritage Fund for a viability study grant have stalled over their concerns that the change in ownership potentially jeopardises our ‘pathway’ to site acquisition. This is a classic “Catch 22” situation – we need the study to concretise our acquisition proposal but need the extra funds to secure a meaningful study. So, we look forward to discussions with Prince’s Regeneration Trust in the New Year as to how we can progress our joint cause.