March update

March update – Higher Costs but a Fantastic New Grant

In our Christmas message we reported that invitations to tender had been sent out to three East Anglian building companies with appropriate experience of working within the heritage sector.  Also, guided by our professional project team, we reported that the project cost was forecast to be £1,469,000 and we were at this stage quietly confident that we had provisionally secured the full amount of funding with on-site work due to begin in April ’23.

However, when tenders were received at the end of February they showed the true building and restoration cost to be significantly higher than forecast and, as a result, a new funding gap had opened up.

An evaluation of the tenders resulted in the preferred bidder to be Seamans Building, a Suffolk builder with significant experience with projects of this type.

In the last two weeks our Quantity Surveyors and ourselves have been urgently discussing cost details with Seamans whilst we are re-examining all our funding streams to reduce the gap between costs and income. Closing the gap from both directions is important and it needs to be closed before the contract with Seamans can be placed.

In December 2022 we had applied for a grant from the Community Ownership Fund and last week we had the fantastic news that we have been provisionally awarded £195,000 to help close the gap further.  This was meant to be the final funding to close the gap – it is not, but is definitely a major help.

We are still reliant on reaching our minimum share target of £225,000 to achieve the £50,000 Share Booster Fund. So far, we have raised £214,000 with just £11,000 to find. We have until the end of March to complete our target, so please buy shares to help us over the line. If you are a UK tax payer you will receive 30% tax relief on your investment through the current SITR (Social Investment Tax Relief) scheme which will expire soon. Therefore, a £1,000 investment will reduce an income tax bill by £300.

Finally, we met last week with The National Lottery Heritage Fund and have a plan to close any remaining funding gap which we are actively working on.

Watch this space for further updates.

Best wishes from the George Team

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