Update July 2022
As reported here, last year we had a conference with many new Diocese representatives, reassessed the status and objectives of TOCAG, and the prospect of a private ownership approach and made a fresh start as a partnership towards a mutually advantageous outcome, which is very welcome.
Last month we met with Historic England and the Diocese together on site to review progress.
Historic England is finalising the scope of a focussed buildings condition survey with costed work schedule of repair and stabilisation this week. This has always been the most critical immediate enabler to all our other plans.
The Diocese will put this to tender with their network of Quinquennial building inspectors, who are familiar with this kind of task.
Historic England’s funding body confirmed they expect to be able to cover the cost of this report from unallocated funds from other projects.
Historic England have offered the use of their dedicated drone team to introduce a specialised drone into the tower as part of the survey so that it can be investigated inside as well as out.
We have stressed completion of the survey before winter will avoid difficulties with access to the site.
In parallel, we are still working towards registration of TOCAG as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, which as a corporate body will give us the legal capacity to take actions in our name and without trustees personally having liability. To enable this, TOCAG must establish a ‘legal interest’ in the site for which we are waiting for the Diocese to draft a management agreement or preferably lease to allow our application to proceed. A long-term lease is also a prerequisite for TOCAG be able to apply for other funding sources, so this looks like our preferred relationship with any owner.
Once we have the survey report and CIO status, TOCAG can begin campaigning and fund raising in earnest
A Diocese Historic Church Building Support Officer will work with TOCAG in their role of ‘helping communities maintain, repair and adapt their historic church buildings‘ to help us develop management and funding plans
As active members of the Heritage Trust Network, we have also linked up with the Friends of Shenstone Tower, a group with remarkable parallels with those of TOCAG and who have achieved a great deal with their ruined tower since 2019.
Whilst they have been remarkably fortunate in their situation, support and funding (quite an eye opener, actually), a great deal of their experience is directly relevant to our future plans.