Please show your support for this community-led project for maintaining The Priory as a cultural centre and community facility by signing today.
OPCH, a charitable trust registered at Companies House, has now been set up, with 9 Trustees. If Bromley Council agree to a community asset transfer, OPCH will take over management of the building.
OPRP - Orpington Priory Regeneration Project – formerly STOP (Save The Orpington Priory) has been campaigning since February 2015 to prevent Bromley Council from selling the building on the open market and risking its loss as a community asset. Orpington Priory is Grade II* listed, dating from the 14th century, and is situated in the historic Grade II listed Priory Gardens, in an extensive conservation area at the St Mary Cray end of Orpington High Street.
Following the STOP petition in February, which attracted over 4,000 signatures, the Council deferred its decision on selling the building and it was registered as an Asset of Community Value.
On 25 September, Bromley Museum closed its doors at The Priory and the decision to sell the building on a long lease, was confirmed on 23 October. The Council has stressed that it does not need to raise capital funds but wants to avoid further annual running costs for maintaining The Priory.
OPCH is finalising a viable and sustainable business plan, which will be submitted to Bromley Council before 20 May 2016. Most rooms are currently in a useable condition and research has shown how much demand there is locally, with a lack of appropriate local venues, particularly for major events. In the first year, the following will cover the annual maintenance costs:
The group’s vision is to see The Priory as a cultural centre, with a heritage offering about the history of the Orpington area, facilities for use by local organisations and a programme of artistic, musical and theatrical events. There is future potential as a popular wedding venue, with a café/restaurant and full facilities, once funds have been raised and the building has been refurbished. This would ensure the retention of a local civic landmark for the foreseeable future. It would be cultural vandalism for this valuable and historic building to be lost as a community asset.
OPCH aims to raise funds to cover the first year’s maintenance costs, whilst a management structure is put in place to run the building, handle the hiring and events programme and arrange funding for the refurbishment of the building and improvement of the facilities.