Coalville C.A.N. Group Makes Bid For Two Empty Town Centre Co-op Sites

By Graham Hill

25th Sep 2020 | Local News

Coalville C.A.N. (Communities and Neighbours) has put in a bid to Central England Co-operative to purchase two of their empty buildings in town centre.

The group are asking Central England Co-operative in principle to sell both of their properties - in Bridge Street and Belvoir Road - to the community.

This, say Coalville CAN, would fit in with their community-minded foundations.

The local group supporting 'people's' projects and new enterprises say: "What might you do if the Community could own the Bridge Road Co-operative site? What if you had the opportunity to start your enterprise in the old Cooperative Department Store and live upstairs, what might you do?"

Captain of the Coalville C.A.N Steering Crew James Wilkinson, added: "We would very much like to work with Central England Co-operative to help deliver a 'co-opy' vision in Coalville.

"How about a community-led regeneration with local people designing and building our local spaces? Creating space for truly affordable accommodation; urban sport; learning; community café and hub – with local energy generation and environmental solutions and all in a creative, landscaped settings? Does this sound great to you?

"The plans are ambitious yet do-able. It's not 'the way things are normally done', yet it is the right thing to do.

"As Covid-19 has made visible - the solutions lie within communities and within the people of Coalville and area."

In June, Coalville C.A.N.awarded £15,000 by the Architectural Heritage Fund to undertake a feasibility study on the old Co-operative store in Belvoir Road.

Deana Wildgoose, of TH!NK FC, who are supporting efforts to make this happen, said: "We know from working with Central England Co-operative on other projects how community-minded they are and this will leave a great legacy in Coalville.

"If you are one of its 1,700,000 of its member/owners what do you think?

"Co-operatives have always been there for their communities; they were formed to protect them and help them flourish, this project will certainly do that for Coalville."

The concept image attached shows the sort of design that can be achieved, with wide community, social, ethical and environmental benefit when those in charge put purpose before profit.

James Wilkinson added: "We are a group of local individuals that have come together to lead on this to get it started, we all have different skills and interests and we are looking for more people to join the team.

"We also have a Support Crew – people and organisations that are there to help when we need it, from the Architectural Heritage Fund that have already committed to funding a feasibility study for the Co-op on Belvoir Road, to LandAid that are looking to provide some Probono support for fees to help with the transfer of buildings.

"A key part of this is for the community to be able to buy a share in our plans and as owners of the community business have a vote in the future, including how the surpluses are spent.

"The money made will not go out to faceless investors, unethical landlords or overseas, rather into a 'Community Wealth' pot of money to be spent how the people of Coalville choose."

Coalville C.A.N. say the old Co-ops are not the only buildings that could be put to a more sustainable community use - there are many.

If you are interested in finding out more there is a Facebook group – Coalville C.A.N CBS where all documents and reports are shared.

Anyone that shares the vision of a thriving Coalville is able to join in and get involved.

The group say there is room for everyone – and if you have some time, an interest and want to get involved 'the door is wide open'.

The Connecting Coalville event is being held tomorrow (Saturday, Sept 26), details HERE

You can find details of the Coalville Community Survey HERE

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