New hope for culture centre despite £250k asking price

The asking price for the former Public Works store in Jamestown has been put at more than a quarter of a million pounds.

But the island’s Executive Council has stated that it will not necessarily be sold to the highest bidder.

That offers some measure of hope to heritage campaigners who want to see the PWD store used as a cultural centre, giving a new home to the island’s historic archives, as well as the public library.

Supporters of the Museum of St Helena were still waiting for a response to their proposal when “for sale” signs appeared on the one-time customs warehouse.

Nick Thorpe, one of the promoters of the scheme, pointed out that the United Nations had put up 250,000 dollars to establish the cultural centre.

He said: “The archives are a worldwide asset for St Helena researchers.

“One floor of the PWD store offers at least twice the amount of space the Archives occupy now.

“The library is more of a local thing and needs bringing into the 21st Century.

“In 1997 Kelly and Robinson wrote a report to kick-start the tourist industry. The UN granted $250,000 for a cultural centre encompassing museum, library
and archives.

“The Heritage Society was allowed $80,000 and a 20-year lease on the old Power House. The Museum opened in 2002.

“Predictably perhaps, nothing similar happened for the archives and library.”

The ExCo report for this week said any decision on the sale of the PWD store would have to be made by the Governor in Council because of the building’s significance. It would also be considered by the Estates Strategy Panel.

“The building will not necessarily be sold to the highest bidder,” said the report. “All factors, including proposed usage, will be taken into account prior to any decision to sell.”

Councillor Ian Rummery said: “The criteria for sale of a building such as the ex-PWD store includes its potential for the common good as well as commercial considerations.

“Personally I welcome the move to put it on the market with these safeguards as it will motivate those with an interest to explore ways in which they could fund development of the site.

“As there is no market we need to start somewhere.”

SEE ALSO:
Hopes remain for archive plan as store is put on market
Tell it like it is, excrescences and all…

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