With the shed finally completed in February 2020, it might interest some to know some background on why it has been such a long road.
It may have appeared from time to time over the last 4 or 5 years that very little had been going on, but we can assure you that beneath the calm waters we had all been pedalling like mad.
Prior to the Legion plan the original option for the Banchory Men’s Shed was in other premises to the north of Banchory town centre, but the Legion link-up looked very promising and the plans as noted elsewhere were drawn up.
In April 2016 a high-level building cost estimate for these plans showed us that the likely cost was considerably higher than originally envisaged and we initially felt the sum was beyond our means. Even if we successfully managed to fund-raise this amount, it was nevertheless beholden on the Banchory Men’s Shed Trustees to ensure that whatever plans we adopted were in the best interests of the Shed and made best use of our Charity funds. We therefore started looking at alternative locations.
From June 2016 onwards we carried out a structured review of potential premises, land and buildings in and around Banchory – including existing buildings and land in both private and public (Council) possession. We considered a total of 10 options and drew up a short list. Late in 2016 we finally settled on a highly-favourable option based on suitable location, much lower cost demands than the original plans and very achievable facilities.
We then suffered a series of setbacks for both commercial and planning reasons and the selected option moved on rapidly through a number of alternatives. Ultimately, however, as we learned more about the full range of issues affecting the various options we decided in August 2017 to effectively go back to square one, re-evaluate all options again, including looking at any new ideas.
During this whole exercise we assessed a total of 22 options (existing premises, new builds, adaptations, land, temporary vs. permanent structures and the associated planning permissions etc.) It became clear there was no “low cost” solution in Banchory as the type of premises adopted by most other sheds (disused ex-Council properties) simply didn’t exist in Banchory, or where something might have been nominally available it was already earmarked or too long-term. The feasible alternatives (in certain cases, on more realistic costings than we had originally thought), all proved to be of a similar order of magnitude cost to the original Legion plans. The basic issue in Banchory was that it is a desirable place to live and to conduct business, and all land and buildings are at a premium.
Having a better view of the likely cost range, we also looked further at the funding situation, and found that this had changed complexion somewhat since our earlier days, with some very substantial grant sources now available. We also ran a member survey so that we could be sure of what the members were looking for in terms of activities, facilities and location.
This work all convinced us that the Legion plan was the best and also gave us a greater degree of confidence in our ability to fund, build and sustain the Shed. The decision was agreed by the Board of Trustees in November 2017 and the intent was to start with converting Garage Bay 1 to the Workshop area (“Phase 1”) and continue as funds permit to convert the undercroft (“Phase 2”). Funding was indeed a challenge but was ultimately successful in raising a more reasonable amount needed, occasioned by a careful review of builders quotes and scope.
As a final note, the Board of Trustees would like to take this opportunity to thank the many people who have very generously and keenly helped us with this process, given advice, offered land and facilities and offered their services and support over an extended period. Our appreciation of all that help is sincere.
(Updated 7th Feb 2020)