Wool House for the community - action requested!

The Wool House

In Southampton there is a beautiful and unique building which you may know, called the Wool House. After being closed for several years, in 2013 it was transformed into a thriving hub for local culture and art, open to all. Unfortunately the council thought it would be a good idea to turn it into a pub, and the planning applications for the pub conversion have just a few days left for public comment and objections now, ending on 18th March.

You can help stop the pub conversion by submitting an objection, and asking your friends to do the same. Here are some of the reasons for objecting, and how you can very simply send it to the Council:

* As a unique cultural asset of Southampton, and a proven success as a hub for local culture and art, the Wool House attracted over 10,000 visitors during the few months it ran in 2013 and covered all its costs. It drew in many tourists and locals, with its eclectic program including a variety of gigs, gallery exhibitions, workshops, family events, dance, theatre, music, history features and more. Many came just for the stunning architecture and café. This is evidently a better, sustainable alternative use for the Wool House, for the community.

* Where is the logic in having another pub and restaurant when there are already many other choices and such businesses are closing all over Southampton? It's a saturated market which means one company's success, including any new jobs, will come at the expense of others. It's a clear case of economic displacement, which should not be supported by the Council, were they acting in the interests of the local economy.

* Running the Wool House as a not-for-profit venture for the community would make it eligible for lottery grant funding, that neither the council or a pub could access, thus helping to maintain the building in excellent condition.

* It is not a case of the pub or another Tesco's. Whether you look at the cultural, community or economic benefits, turning the Wool House into a pub (with brewery and basic food menu) represents a rather poor choice, given the proven alternative available. Were a pub to be approved that would open the door for even worse options in future.

* The Council may be seeking a steady rent from the building, in hard economic times, but even that argument is questionable, when the pub have struck a deal to have the full rent waved for some considerable time.

* There are many other disused vintage pub buildings that could be used for a micro brewery in Southampton. The case boils down to short-sighted, business as usual, private profit over community interests. And in the case of a unique heritage building and publicly owned cultural asset such as the Wool House, what the Council are considering shows a clear lack of forward thinking and is a shameful travesty of their duty to serve the public interest.

* While the Council do support various culture and art projects in Southampton, what the Wool House offered, under the care of Element Arts, was unique in its inclusiveness, breadth and scale. This is something a for-profit business could not hope to match, even if they are also supportive of art and culture. The community run cultural hub was a real boon for Southampton, and could be again, complementing the planned Arts Complex scheduled to open sometime in 2016.

If you would like to object to the proposed pub plans and support the use of the Wool House as a cultural hub for the community, it takes just a few minutes. The deadline for all objections is 18th March. Here's a very simple guide for how to do that:
https://www.facebook.com/download/1423265507921419/Simple%20guide%20planning%20objections%20-%20Wool%20House%20for%20the%20Community.pdf

For more information on the campaign to save the Wool House for the Community see:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/woolhouseforcommunity/
For more info on the arts and cultural community that ran the Wool House in 2013:
https://www.facebook.com/thewoolhouseproject

Besides submitting a planning objection, you could also write to Southampton Council, English Heritage, Art Council England and the Minister for Culture, to express your views. The wider messages of support for the Wool House being used for the community in the fullest way possible are spread the better the chances of that happening!