This entry will be added to from time to time, as the project goes forward. Scroll down to see the latest updates.
The Lower Lodge is a charming Gothic Revival gatehouse that was formerly a main access point to Ashton Court Mansion. Currently it is in a state of advanced dilapidation.
Bristol Buildings Preservation Trust is part of a Heritage Partnership with Ashton Park School and Bristol City Council working to conserve the building and restore it as a heritage hub for the local community. The Trust has worked with pupils from the school to develop proposals for the restoration. In autumn 2012 the Trust submitted a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to support the project, following advice on earlier proposals from the HLF Regional Committee. The Trust investigated staffing and maintenance issues and included in the bid proposals for managing and financing the restored building. A bid for Capital Challenge Funding has also been made to the Architectural Heritage Fund to assist the project.
“The AHF has supported the Trust with grants for an options appraisal and is pleased a fully developed scheme has emerged.” (Ian Rice, Architectural Heritage Fund)
Ian Rice, Projects and Development Officer at the Architectural Heritage Fund, said: “We wish the partnership every success in this endeavour and hope it will lead to a successful conclusion. The AHF has supported the Trust with grants for an options appraisal and is pleased a fully developed scheme has emerged.”
History The Lower Lodge was constructed c. 1805 to designs attributed to Henry Wood. It is thought its location was carefully considered to enable a picturesque carriage drive to be created to the main west front of Ashton Court.
Part of the education and learning component of the Lower Lodge Gateway Project is to involve local school children in locating the original drive and investigating a landscape plan that Humphry Repton conceived for the south front of Ashton Court Mansion. The historic photograph shows the Lodge as it stood just after the second world war from the old Long Ashton approach to Bristol. Increased traffic has now made its location perilous and the project seeks to provide a new traffic free entrance sharing the approach to Ashton Park School.
The Lodge today As can be seen from the following photographs, the Lodge is presently in an extremely poor state of repair. A survey by structural experts (carried out in 2008 and updated in 2011) has shown that the building can be saved and repaired, but will reach a point of no return unless work begins soon. In 2010 concern for its structure was such that a supporting framework of scaffolding was erected around the building and a protective covering of polythene put in place to prevent further decay.
Future plans Plans for a community heritage hub have been drawn up by Richard Pedlar Architects, including spaces that school children and the local community can use for learning activities. Artists impressions of the completed project have been prepared by Pat Collins.
WELCOME NEWS AT LAST FOR SAVING THE LOWER LODGE
Agreement To Start Approved By Heritage Lottery Fund.
The project has been given approval by the Heritage Lottery Fund to go ahead with the restoration of the Lower Lodge and its conversion to the Bower Ashton Heritage Gateway Centre.
This exciting news follows a stream of good news for the project over the last 6 months.
Approval of Planning
Bristol City Council approved the detailed scheme and gave both listed building and planning consent in July 2014.
In November the Heritage Lottery Fund offered a confirmed grant of £553,000 towards the delivery of the project.
In support, two local heritage trusts, the Bristol Mercers Company and the Bristol Visual and Environmental Trust offered £10,000 and £35,000 respectively.
In addition, the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation gave a further £36,000 from the Challenge Fund.
On this basis the Cabinet of Bristol City Council have agreed to proceed with the project underwriting further grants from other heritage groups.
Building Plans Confirmed
Our Architects ASL have confirmed that a disabled lift can be fitted into one of the corner turrets, enabling full access to the wonderful Gothic first floor community room.
Historic England and Bristol City Council have agreed that the roof covering can be of a contemporary material enabling retention of its original form.
Agreed Programme for Restoration
Following the signing of the contract with HLF on the 13th May 2015, the project is timetabled to start on site in October this year and the building will be finished ready for the new school year in August 2016.
Approved Local Engagement and Community Projects
The Partnership is now seeking a Lead Activity Consultant and Education and Learning Consultant to kick start the extensive range of community projects approved as part of the scheme.
Interests are being sought later this month to enable the new team to be in place for the start of the conversion in October.
At the BBPT board meeting on 27.04.14, project architect Ashley Davies of Austin-Smith:Lord gave an excellent presentation of how the project is now developing.
• The building has now been surveyed in detail.
• Many areas are in a very poor state but the temporary scaffolding enclosure has succeeded in preventing further deterioration.
• Where items of the interior have been lost, in all cases, fortunately, there is at least one surviving item from which to make or find matching replacements, including of plaster corbels and ironmongery.
• The technical team of architects, structural and services engineers have now solved all the major design issues, to allow the fully accessible re-use of the building. These include the installation of a lift to the 1st floor, overcoming the significant noise issue from the A370 main road and heating the building without unsightly radiators.
• The first floor room, now available for inspection for the first time in many years, is remarkable. With its fine plasterwork and joinery restored, it will provide an outstanding learning environment and community resource.
• However, it is clear that there is a need for additional finance to complete the project and we are now preparing a funding strategy to tackle the deficit. All contributions welcome!
• The Partnership (BBPT, together with Ashley Park School and the South-west Cooperative Learning Trust) will be putting in applications for Planning and Listed Building Consent later this month.
• If all goes well, the project should be starting on site in March 2015 and be completed by January 2016.
Recent photographs by project architect Ashley Davies, showing the extent of the repair works needed.
All our Partners have now signed up to the scheme. Architects Austin-Smith:Lord have now been appointed and are working with us to prepare a planning and listed building application for submission this June. The Lodge itself has been opened up and surveyed. The roof protection has worked well and the interiors are dry and in better condition than anticipated, given the recent very wet weather. Our architect on site is Ashley Davies and he is proceeding to look at what is needed to repair the building and is drawing up the detailed restoration plan for the project. As part of this phase the Trust and its Partners will be consulting the local Community and working on the engagement plan our partners, Ashton Park School. These are the sketch floor plans, now being worked up into final drawings: