Morrab Community Project – Gardener’s House

Melissa Hardie MBE, Operations Lead of the Hypatia Trust attended the 2018 AGM meeting of the RGSC and raised the need to forge links between the RGSC and the Morrab Community Project.

The Hypatia Trust,  The Friends of Morrab Gardens and the Pengarth Day Centre are working  together to renovate the stables and create The Gardeners' House - a new learning centre for botanical and horticultural projects, a natural history reading room, lecture hall, an open air laboratory and communal activity spaces. 

She pointed out that a Management Team needed to be built and invited one or two members of the RGSC. Frank Howie and Tamsin Page were proposed as well as J. N. Plummer and Adrian Spalding. This was unanimously agreed at the RGSC 2018 AGM Meeting.    

Melissa Hardie MBE remains at the core of the Hypatia Trust which she founded in 1996 to promote the concerns and achievements of women. In 2012, she received an MBE from Queen Elizabeth for her Services to the Arts and Heritage of West Cornwall.

Report by Melissa Hardie at the 2018 AGM

The Morrab Community Project is waiting to hear whether or not our Stage II grant application has been successful.  The decision meeting is on March 19 with a proposed starting point in April.  For the past year we have been developing potential partnerships for operating sustainably into the future with other local organisations dedicated to supporting and improving a healthy physical and learning environment focussed on Morrab Gardens.  We are keen to involve the Royal Geological Society in our planning and hope for willingness to invest time and resources into this project

However, we have had to try and spend most of our time, until now, preparing grant applications and carrying out fundraising events to gather matched funding and to prove community enthusiasm.  When we know the outcome of our applications and know that we will be able to go forward, we will be approaching the RGSC more personally with hopes that your great talents will be shared.

The £1.5m Gardener’s House Project will restore and re-purpose a derelict Grade II Listed building, in the current ownership of Cornwall Council, located in Morrab Gardens, Penzance. It will be transformed into a resource centre, library and archive, and will create spaces from which an ambitious £0.3m programme of community engagement will be delivered.

In terms of facilities, the Gardener’s House will provide a community activity room with open access to the gardens, an entrance lobby with small shop area, specialist gardeners’ offices and storerooms, toilets/disabled access, stairs and platform lift to first floor. On the first floor there will be a lecture room with AV facilities, a library, archive and reading room, an office opening on seeded roof with a weather station, as well as toilets and a break-out area for refreshments/events.

The project is at an advanced stage of development with RIBA Stage 4 due to be completed in the next few weeks. This will enable the project team to meet the funding deadlines required by the LEADER programme which requires a start on site in April 2019. With the support of the HLF and Cornwall Council this could be achieved, whilst allowing time for final funding applications to be determined and the funding package completed. Six major applications have been submitted to date, which have taken a year to develop and something over 100,000 pounds to complete, with the help of architects, consultants and licensing.

Planning Permission and Listed Building Consent have been secured.