Latimer Street, Romsey, Hampshire
WHATS SO SPECIAL ABOUT THIS PLACE?
Project 5: Latimer Street, Romsey
Client: Romsey Building Preservation Trust
Category: Romsey Conservation Area
New Use: Retail and residential
Find out more at: http://www.romseydistrictsociety.co.uk/building-preservation-trust.html
This project was undertaken by Romsey Building Preservation Trust and entailed the restoration of a long-established, semi-derelict, newsagents situated in the historic centre of Romsey. Although unlisted, 5 Latimer Street was considered as a heritage asset of Romsey and it formed part of a prominent block of 18th century buildings, situated within the Romsey Conservation Area.
WHY WAS THE BUILDING UNDER THREAT?
A shop front was added to the building in the 19th century, with the first floor having continued to be used as residential accommodation until the late 1990s. It was largely unmodernised since being converted into a shop, although storage space had been added to the rear. The building was in a very poor structural state and the Trust took this project on not only to enhance the building’s external appearance to the benefit of the Conservation Area, but to bring an individual shop unit back into use as an important local amenity.
HOW WAS IT SAVED?
The Trust utilised its own funds to acquire the building and later came to the AHF for working-loan capital. It wished to divide the shop unit from the living accommodation above, thereby allowing the two to be sold separately. It was also looking to replace the storage areas to the rear with a new-build residential unit. These small scale restoration projects can add significantly to the vibrancy of any shopping street and the Trust hoped that the project would be an example to other owners with poorly used space above their shops.
HOW IS THE BUILDING USED NOW?
Once completed, the building was sold on the open market and purchased by a local jewellery business. The Trust describes the restored shop as ‘light and airy – a major improvement from its earlier dingy interior’. This was the first project that the Trust had undertaken whereby the end-use was not exclusively residential. The completed project has improved the streetscape through the installation of a more visually sympathetic shopfront, provided the town-centre with much-needed accommodation, and encouraged other neighbouring property owners to explore the same restoration model.
HOW DID THE AHF HELP?
The Trust came to the AHF for a working-capital loan facility of £325,250. Using a tailored approach to lending, the Trust was offered the option of monthly drawdowns of the loan, to pay the building contractor whilst keeping its costs to a minimum. This also meant that the Trust did not need to spend time applying for capital grants, thus allowing a quicker commencement for the building work. The Trust stated that it was ‘very happy with the system provided by the AHF’ in ensuring regular and variable payment requests were dealt with promptly.