The county’s leading conservation charity has taken steps to secure its future by buying its first ‘home’, in Taunton, after nearly 50-years of protecting local wildlife.
Somerset Wildlife Trust recently purchased 34 Wellington Road, Taunton, as its new central office. The move will bring 50 jobs to the town and provide more opportunities for volunteers and community groups to be involved in the work of the Trust.
Restoration breathes new life into the property
Restoration of the historic three-storey building will breathe new life into the property which has been empty since it was vacated by children’s charity Barnardos in summer 2012. Wellington based Architectural Thread, who specialise in the conservation, restoration and sustainable re-use of existing buildings, have been appointed as project architects. Work will get underway in early autumn and it is planned that the restoration will be complete for spring 2014 a year that will see the charity celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Andrew Davis, Director of Resources for the Trust said: “A permanent base has been a long-held ambition of the Trust and it is fitting that we have finally been able to achieve this as we approach our 50th year. In an increasingly challenging financial climate the property will help to underpin the financial stability of the Trust.”
“As an organisation that relies on the support if its members and volunteers the Trust is looking forward to being an active part of Somerset’s county town and the community that lives and works there.”
Legacy from a founder member
By owning rather than renting, The Trust estimates that the move will save in the region of £50,000 a year which can instead be invested in local conservation. The purchase was made possible after the Trust received a legacy from a founder member, Dr Chris Smith. In line with Dr Smith’s wishes this legacy has been invested in nature reserves, Living Landscapes, education and the search for a permanent base for the Trust.
Simon Ware, director of Ware & Co independent estate and lettings agents said: ‘I’m very happy that we have been instrumental in finding Somerset Wildlife Trust a new home and making sure the purchase ran smoothly.
‘The whole team at Ware & Co is delighted that this high profile property is going to be occupied by such an important and well-loved charity.
‘It’s a prime location for a headquarters and we wish the Trust every success for this exciting new development in the heart of our county town.’
The Victorian property, which dates from at least 1888, has been identified as making a positive contribution to the Conservation Area within which it sits. The site will incorporate a showcase wildlife garden demonstrating how everyone can make space for nature where they live. The Galmington Stream, which is home threatened water vole, runs to the rear of the property, with Longrun Meadow and French Weir Park a stone’s throw away.
Photo: Andrew Davis, Director of Resources for Somerset Wildlife Trust receives the keys to the charity’s new home in Taunton from Simon Ware, director of Ware & Co independent estate and lettings agents.