I’ve got some information from the Blake Cottage Trust which has been sent to the members of the Felpham Village Conservation Society (FVCS). I’m passing it on verbatim and accompanying it with the picture of the parlous state of Blake’s Cottage, which, as you will see, is relevant to what I’m now going to tell you.
Dear FVCS member,
We have been asked by the Blake Cottage Trust to circulate their invitation to attend a meeting on 3rd June to meet their architect and hear about their vision for Blakes Cottage. The Society has now set up a working group to monitor progress with the cottage so we will attend and report back to members in due course. Members are also invited to attend.
The FVCS Committee.
The invitation from the Blakes Cottage Trust reads:
“We have organised a public meeting in the Memorial hall for Saturday June 3rd. It would help us to spread the word if you could circulate the following to your members:
The Cottage Trustees have invited the architect, Stuart Cade, who will
undertake the restoration of the cottage, to address a public meeting “Meet the Architect” in the Felpham Memorial Hall at 11:00 on Saturday June 10th. The purpose of the meeting is to share with the community the vision for the cottage and to respond to any questions or concerns that people may have about the cottage’s future.
We would be grateful if you could circulate this to your members”
The Blake Cottage Trust”
Sounds lovely doesn’t it? But, I’m sorry to have to tell you, it’s a con trick, and, what is more, a familiar one. It’s exactly the same trick that was played on us in the article printed by Bognor Regis Observer on Thursday June 16th 2016, when the headlines told us “Blake’s Cottage to be restored as £500,000 plan is revealed.” This meeting will be a re-run of that article. It worries me to think how easy it will be for the people who attend the meeting to be taken in by it.
The original article told us that around £50,000 would be spent on architectural plans and drawings for a half million pound, state of the art, new building to built in the grounds. It did not tell us what the building was for (except to say that it would be a ‘world class centre’) that came a great deal later when Tim Heath admitted that it was to be a multi functional building, having a secure space for small but important exhibitions, space for conferences, alternate space for a SECOND RESIDENCE, as well as office and administrative space. Please note that word “residence”. It’s going to cost half a million at least, half the cottage is going to be knocked down to make room for it and somebody’s going to live in it.
The one new fact in all this is that Mr Heath has chosen his architect, whom you will meet if you attend the meeting. His name is Stuart Cade. And I think it is fairly safe to assume, as he is now speaking for the BCT, that he will have been paid his £50,000 fee. Now let me tell you a little bit more about the gentleman. I have Googled him of course. Anyone reasonable would assume that he will be skilled in the restoration of period dwellings, but I’m sorry to say his specialties are different.
I have recently been in touch with the John Clare Cottage Society, which bought John Clare’s cottage and has restored it to what it would have been when he was living there. In order to be sure that it was as well done and as accurate as they could get it, they employed an architect whose specialty was 19th Century listed buildings.
So what is Mr Stuart Cade’s specialty, I will quote from his website. He has worked on “The Dulwich Picture Gallery, the Wallace Collection, The Southbank and an extension to the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith.” And he says he is experienced in “master-planning, educational, residential and cultural projects”. There’s that word RESIDENTIAL again. Well, well, well.
So this is my message to anyone attending the BCT meeting. Take a large packet of salt with you, remember the word RESIDENCE and this picture of the terrible state our Blake’s Cottage is in (which is probably even worse now) and bear in mind that NOTHING AT ALL has been spent on restoring the cottage. I hope you get the chance to ask someone from the BCT why not. And I do so hope that you do not fall for the con trick and that you can get some answers from the BCT.