Added on: 3rd June, 2015 by O1
The campaign group is working on developing a sustainable business plan for the future of The Priory. An outline proposal has been sent to the Council in the hope it will inform the debate on the Bromley Museum and The Priory item on the agenda for the Executive on 10 June.
At the 11 February Executive, the Leader of the Council, Stephen Carr, announced that, due to public outcry, as evidenced by the 1,600 signatures collected by an e-petition within a week, the Council's decision on the future of Bromley Museum and The Priory was being deferred, pending further consultation.
The agenda for the Executive on 10 June includes an officer's report (download left) which has four recommendations, two of which are:
1. The cessation of the museum service at the Priory, Orpington, and the provision of new museum exhibitions at Central Library, Bromley, managed by Local Studies and Archives;
2. The Priory is declared surplus to operational requirements with effect from 1 October 2015 and, subject to further work by Strategic Property Services on other Council uses for the building, authority is given to offer the property for sale on the open market.
(View Agenda for Executive here: http://cds.bromley.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=121&MId=5448)
Although the report acknowledges that ‘there is a strong desire by some people to see the building used by the community as a museum/arts facility’, it seems biased towards selling The Priory, unless other Council uses can be found. There is a lack of confidence in the capability of the community to develop a sustainable business plan, when there is a wealth of talent and experience which can be utilised to achieve a viable solution, including business experience that officers in the Council do not have.
For consultation meetings, the Council insisted on splitting the campaign group into factions:
• Business (Orpington 1st)
• History (Bromley Heritage & Arts Forum, an umbrella organisation for local history, arts and heritage societies)
• Education (representatives from local schools)
• Community (‘Orpington Community’ (Margot Rohan), Friends of The Priory & Gardens, local residents’ associations and some individual residents)
An outline proposal for the future of The Priory and the latest e-petition stats (2679 Bromley borough residents) have been sent to Bromley Council from the #SaveTheOrpPriory campaign group, in the hope that they will inform the debate at the Executive on 10 June.
But will Bromley Councillors ignore Orpington residents' (and others') indignation at their assumption that the community cannot find appropriately experienced people to take over management of The Priory? Or will they take on board that the population represents ONE THIRD of the borough and local opinions should be taken into consideration more seriously?
Bromley is not the centre of the universe of this borough. Orpington has been sadly neglected for too many years and local residents are fed up with the area being decimated and dismissed as an unimportant town in the borough. It will rise like the Phoenix - Orpington deserves better.
Orpington1st, the BID (Business Improvement District) company, is working stoically to regenerate and improve the town centre. Residents should show their support and pride in the town.
There are myriad examples of successful regeneration of old and listed buildings for use as museums, heritage centres, wedding venues, conference and function rooms and other activities which allow community access and proper maintenance. Below are links to the websites of some of them:
Dyrham Park www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dyrham-park/
Kevington Hall http://hidden-london.com/gazetteer/kevington/
Pendle Heritage Centre www.pendleheritage.co.uk/
Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre www.favershamsociety.org/
The Alexander Centre www.thealexandercentre.com/
Lytham Heritage Centre www.lythamheritage.co.uk/Heritage-Centre.html