We care about the future of the Wool House too

We care about the future of the Wool House too

We care about the future of the Wool House too

First published in Readers' Letters

WE are writing to express how delighted we are to see that so many people in Southampton care about the future of the Wool House.

We have specifically chosen this site for our new venture because we do too.

This property is being leased as a commercial business purely due to economics and we are relieved that it will not become another Tesco Express or worse, derelict.

We are dedicated to maintaining this beautiful building whilst bringing a totally new and unique concept to the town. Substantial damage to the roof caused by vandals throwing stones will lead to major problems once water gets into the chestnut beams, unless a considerable amount of work is carried out.

It is unfortunate that the council are unable to continue to give arts groups access to the Wool House rent free but in our hands it will remain open to all, whilst receiving the work it is in desperate need of.

This will also enable the council and the people of Southampton to retain ownership, as well as income to spend on services elsewhere in the city.

A new arts venue is due to open in the Gods House Tower in 2016 and the council have offered to help find Element Arts a new home. We have received a huge amount of support from those who have seen our plans and the decision to take on the lease is being welcomed by locals and tourists alike.

We are not proposing a theme pub and we are not a chain; we want to keep the Wool House for the community and will welcome anyone of any age who just wants to pop in to see the building.

A lift will also be installed to ensure that disabled people can access the whole site.

A petition has been created opposing the application and we would like to invite the organisers, whom we have tried to contact, and anyone who has anxieties towards the project for an informal chat so that we can listen to their concerns and discuss our proposed plans.

An information board will go up in The Platform Tavern to provide updates on our progress and all are welcome to take a look.

THE DANCING MAN BREWERY TEAM, Southampton.

Comments (10)

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1:42pm Thu 9 Jan 14

loosehead says...

will you set up an information booth for tourists inside the building?
will you set up an information booth for tourists inside the building? loosehead
  • Score: -2

6:14pm Thu 9 Jan 14

joenice1 says...

Really hoping it works out for you guy's I'm a huge fan of the Platform Tavern, although I wish it was bigger, and I'm a massive fan of your real ale's. Southampton needs the private investment, especially due to cuts. Good luck to the Dancing Man Brewery lot :)
Really hoping it works out for you guy's I'm a huge fan of the Platform Tavern, although I wish it was bigger, and I'm a massive fan of your real ale's. Southampton needs the private investment, especially due to cuts. Good luck to the Dancing Man Brewery lot :) joenice1
  • Score: 4

10:57pm Thu 9 Jan 14

SFC-Matt says...

Any chance of refunding me the £5 that I was short changed. The obnoxiuos bar maid took my contact details to contact me after she cashed up but never did. Thieving bar staff at the Platform.
Any chance of refunding me the £5 that I was short changed. The obnoxiuos bar maid took my contact details to contact me after she cashed up but never did. Thieving bar staff at the Platform. SFC-Matt
  • Score: -7

8:28am Fri 10 Jan 14

Artina says...

It was not given rent free btw, but then The Echo has never really bothered with a little thing like checking and printing the facts of a story they are backing. The Echo = echoing it's masters voice...the council. That area is going to look like crap anyhow by the time West Quay has finished devouring all the old walls with it's latest monstrosity of concrete. I mean Southampton needs a few more vacant shop outlets, and litter gathering terraces of concrete, we have none. Not like the Bargate shopping Centre, which dwarfed some old wall, is laying empty and derelict in the town centre, or the now boarded up building that was Jongleurs, (both of which are ideal venues for a pub btw rather than a public heritage building).Vandals throwing stones! seriously yes, Every day I was there I had to beat those vandals off with a broom handle, haha, the rubbish that is printed by this rag.
It was not given rent free btw, but then The Echo has never really bothered with a little thing like checking and printing the facts of a story they are backing. The Echo = echoing it's masters voice...the council. That area is going to look like crap anyhow by the time West Quay has finished devouring all the old walls with it's latest monstrosity of concrete. I mean Southampton needs a few more vacant shop outlets, and litter gathering terraces of concrete, we have none. Not like the Bargate shopping Centre, which dwarfed some old wall, is laying empty and derelict in the town centre, or the now boarded up building that was Jongleurs, (both of which are ideal venues for a pub btw rather than a public heritage building).Vandals throwing stones! seriously yes, Every day I was there I had to beat those vandals off with a broom handle, haha, the rubbish that is printed by this rag. Artina
  • Score: 1

11:40am Fri 10 Jan 14

Ciaran says...

So if you paid rent, why did you not bid to carry on running the Wool House? The only bidders were Dancing Man and an Indian Restaurant - no arts group.

It was up for public tender, so if you didn't know, you have only yourself to blame.

I have to say, throughout this whole saga, I think the arts group have ended up looking quite bad, which is a real shame. What they offered was quite interesting but the continual sniping and moaning has reflected very badly on them, in my opinion.
So if you paid rent, why did you not bid to carry on running the Wool House? The only bidders were Dancing Man and an Indian Restaurant - no arts group. It was up for public tender, so if you didn't know, you have only yourself to blame. I have to say, throughout this whole saga, I think the arts group have ended up looking quite bad, which is a real shame. What they offered was quite interesting but the continual sniping and moaning has reflected very badly on them, in my opinion. Ciaran
  • Score: 1

11:46am Fri 10 Jan 14

Ciaran says...

Sorry, submitted that a little too quickly. I meant to add, it has reflected badly on them bearing in mind the pledge to help them find somewhere else, the help in allowing to use the Wool House in the first place and the fact they have been so disparaging to the Platform Tavern plan - with no real reason to be other than petty bitterness.

They could have bid for it, but they didn't. That's no-one else's fault but their's.
Sorry, submitted that a little too quickly. I meant to add, it has reflected badly on them bearing in mind the pledge to help them find somewhere else, the help in allowing to use the Wool House in the first place and the fact they have been so disparaging to the Platform Tavern plan - with no real reason to be other than petty bitterness. They could have bid for it, but they didn't. That's no-one else's fault but their's. Ciaran
  • Score: 1

7:25pm Fri 10 Jan 14

joehudson says...

Ciaran wrote:
Sorry, submitted that a little too quickly. I meant to add, it has reflected badly on them bearing in mind the pledge to help them find somewhere else, the help in allowing to use the Wool House in the first place and the fact they have been so disparaging to the Platform Tavern plan - with no real reason to be other than petty bitterness.

They could have bid for it, but they didn't. That's no-one else's fault but their's.
Just on this point, the campaign to keep the Wool House for the community, as a hub for local culture and art, emerged from concerned members of the public who greatly valued what Element Arts did in 2013 with the Wool House and would like to see it continue. The campaign is wholly separate from Element Arts. My understanding is that there is generally appreciation for Platform Tavern as a very nice pub and restaurant. Speaking personally I've not heard anything from them, and have got no reply from my offer to have a friendly chat which I made before Christmas.
[quote][p][bold]Ciaran[/bold] wrote: Sorry, submitted that a little too quickly. I meant to add, it has reflected badly on them bearing in mind the pledge to help them find somewhere else, the help in allowing to use the Wool House in the first place and the fact they have been so disparaging to the Platform Tavern plan - with no real reason to be other than petty bitterness. They could have bid for it, but they didn't. That's no-one else's fault but their's.[/p][/quote]Just on this point, the campaign to keep the Wool House for the community, as a hub for local culture and art, emerged from concerned members of the public who greatly valued what Element Arts did in 2013 with the Wool House and would like to see it continue. The campaign is wholly separate from Element Arts. My understanding is that there is generally appreciation for Platform Tavern as a very nice pub and restaurant. Speaking personally I've not heard anything from them, and have got no reply from my offer to have a friendly chat which I made before Christmas. joehudson
  • Score: 9

7:41pm Fri 10 Jan 14

joehudson says...

Happy 2014 :)

Addressing some of the assumptions, assertions and suggestions in the letter from Platform Tavern.

* They care about the future of the Wool House 'just like those who want to see it continue as a hub for culture and art'. No doubt they care very much, and are decent, moral folk, but is it really a comparable kind of concern? Surely it's one of a commercial nature first and foremost? Business first, an open, inclusive and eclectically inspired space for the community and visitors second. With running the Wool House as a not-for-profit (but covering all costs), for the cultural development and enjoyment of Southampton, those priorities would be the other way around, which would lead to different outcomes. So the kind of care or priorities don't seem very comparable.

* "This property is being leased as a commercial business purely due to economics". Fine, in terms of the commercial economic interests of the brewery. But for the city, and in terms of broader distribution of economic opportunity, there is a very strong case to suggest it's the poorer economic choice, compared to a community run project for art and culture. Cultural projects offer large growth potential, given the relative limitation of them in Southampton, and the popularity of what EA did in 2013. The market for pubs and restaurants is already saturated, so one business's gains will tend to be another's loss; leading to zero sum (or near) for for the city. Art and culture at the Wool House provides a very wide range of spending opportunities for all budgets, from shows, workshops, teas and cakes, to works of art and special events, all of which will help to create more flow and distribution of money through the local economy, via the many people providing services and goods through the Wool House. The jobs offered at a pub and restaurant are generally of the low pay, low skill, temp variety and so are unlikely to provide a better economic stimulation.

* If they hadn't taken it on, the Wool House would have become a Tesco or derelict. What a grim vision of the world, and one soundly contradicted by the success of Element Arts in 2013, which covered all expenses and were going from success to success, on no marketing budget, bringing increasing value to the city. The council profited financially from EA being in the Wool House, by having the rates and utilities paid by EA, where otherwise it would have been left empty, as it is now, and continued to fall into disrepair.

* That they (unlike EA) would pay the rent. But how much? Might there perhaps be some favourable conditions, cuts, subsidies or offsetting schemes made available by the council for the new business venture that would mean full rent is in fact not paid for some time? As for the case with EA, the previous arrangement was for the pop up project. A longer term agreement to see the Wool House continue as a hub for local culture may very well generate enough revenue to also pay rent (although an argument could be made that the council should be paying for the service to the city provided).

* The roof wouldn't get fixed unless they run the building. Really? It's a unique and ancient grade 1 listed building, for which many millions of pounds are made available from the national lottery heritage funds through various programs. See: http://www.lotterygo
odcauses.org.uk/fund
ing-finder Additionally, if so many people can come together to run all the events that happened, and many thousands attend and express their support, perhaps the community could come together with skills and funds to professionally fix the the roof, or even install a lift?

* The payment of some unknown rent will be spent on services by the council. Maybe so, but the council get income from a wide number of sources from people staying, visiting and spending in Southampton. So the most widely popular and culture and community enriching use of the Wool House may well trump that input, by helping to boost those other streams. Additionally, as above point, a longer term arrangement could see rent payments on top.

* The Art Complex is coming in 2016. Does that mean there is no place for a fine heritage building such as the Wool House being a landmark for art and culture in Southampton? The Art Complex is 2 years away (if it opens on time) and when it does open it will have its own unique character and potentially have a very synergistic relationship with other prime venues for inclusive art and culture.

* EA were offered help by the council to find another venue. This issue is about the best use for the Wool House. On that matter why do Platform Tavern need the grade 1 listed Wool House, which presumably they'll need to alter somewhat to install the micro brewery? Why can't they choose somewhere else in Southampton if they want to expand their business?

* Platform Tavern have tried to contact the campaign organizers to talk. Actually so far I've heard nothing from them, and got no reply to the friendly invitation to talk that I sent them before Christmas. Has anyone else? Perhaps if anyone else who supports the cause of this Wool House for the Community campaign would like to talk to them in a polite way it would be helpful to reach out to them?

For more info and discussion see the Facebook group "Wool House for the Community" (which is separate from Element Arts), where there is also a link to the petition. Thanks!
Happy 2014 :) Addressing some of the assumptions, assertions and suggestions in the letter from Platform Tavern. * They care about the future of the Wool House 'just like those who want to see it continue as a hub for culture and art'. No doubt they care very much, and are decent, moral folk, but is it really a comparable kind of concern? Surely it's one of a commercial nature first and foremost? Business first, an open, inclusive and eclectically inspired space for the community and visitors second. With running the Wool House as a not-for-profit (but covering all costs), for the cultural development and enjoyment of Southampton, those priorities would be the other way around, which would lead to different outcomes. So the kind of care or priorities don't seem very comparable. * "This property is being leased as a commercial business purely due to economics". Fine, in terms of the commercial economic interests of the brewery. But for the city, and in terms of broader distribution of economic opportunity, there is a very strong case to suggest it's the poorer economic choice, compared to a community run project for art and culture. Cultural projects offer large growth potential, given the relative limitation of them in Southampton, and the popularity of what EA did in 2013. The market for pubs and restaurants is already saturated, so one business's gains will tend to be another's loss; leading to zero sum (or near) for for the city. Art and culture at the Wool House provides a very wide range of spending opportunities for all budgets, from shows, workshops, teas and cakes, to works of art and special events, all of which will help to create more flow and distribution of money through the local economy, via the many people providing services and goods through the Wool House. The jobs offered at a pub and restaurant are generally of the low pay, low skill, temp variety and so are unlikely to provide a better economic stimulation. * If they hadn't taken it on, the Wool House would have become a Tesco or derelict. What a grim vision of the world, and one soundly contradicted by the success of Element Arts in 2013, which covered all expenses and were going from success to success, on no marketing budget, bringing increasing value to the city. The council profited financially from EA being in the Wool House, by having the rates and utilities paid by EA, where otherwise it would have been left empty, as it is now, and continued to fall into disrepair. * That they (unlike EA) would pay the rent. But how much? Might there perhaps be some favourable conditions, cuts, subsidies or offsetting schemes made available by the council for the new business venture that would mean full rent is in fact not paid for some time? As for the case with EA, the previous arrangement was for the pop up project. A longer term agreement to see the Wool House continue as a hub for local culture may very well generate enough revenue to also pay rent (although an argument could be made that the council should be paying for the service to the city provided). * The roof wouldn't get fixed unless they run the building. Really? It's a unique and ancient grade 1 listed building, for which many millions of pounds are made available from the national lottery heritage funds through various programs. See: http://www.lotterygo odcauses.org.uk/fund ing-finder Additionally, if so many people can come together to run all the events that happened, and many thousands attend and express their support, perhaps the community could come together with skills and funds to professionally fix the the roof, or even install a lift? * The payment of some unknown rent will be spent on services by the council. Maybe so, but the council get income from a wide number of sources from people staying, visiting and spending in Southampton. So the most widely popular and culture and community enriching use of the Wool House may well trump that input, by helping to boost those other streams. Additionally, as above point, a longer term arrangement could see rent payments on top. * The Art Complex is coming in 2016. Does that mean there is no place for a fine heritage building such as the Wool House being a landmark for art and culture in Southampton? The Art Complex is 2 years away (if it opens on time) and when it does open it will have its own unique character and potentially have a very synergistic relationship with other prime venues for inclusive art and culture. * EA were offered help by the council to find another venue. This issue is about the best use for the Wool House. On that matter why do Platform Tavern need the grade 1 listed Wool House, which presumably they'll need to alter somewhat to install the micro brewery? Why can't they choose somewhere else in Southampton if they want to expand their business? * Platform Tavern have tried to contact the campaign organizers to talk. Actually so far I've heard nothing from them, and got no reply to the friendly invitation to talk that I sent them before Christmas. Has anyone else? Perhaps if anyone else who supports the cause of this Wool House for the Community campaign would like to talk to them in a polite way it would be helpful to reach out to them? For more info and discussion see the Facebook group "Wool House for the Community" (which is separate from Element Arts), where there is also a link to the petition. Thanks! joehudson
  • Score: 4

11:56pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Artina says...

Ciaran wrote:
So if you paid rent, why did you not bid to carry on running the Wool House? The only bidders were Dancing Man and an Indian Restaurant - no arts group.

It was up for public tender, so if you didn't know, you have only yourself to blame.

I have to say, throughout this whole saga, I think the arts group have ended up looking quite bad, which is a real shame. What they offered was quite interesting but the continual sniping and moaning has reflected very badly on them, in my opinion.
I am not EA. So I did not bid. Just because I am on the side of more arts venues in Southampton does not mean I am EA, that was an assumption on your part. I was looking through the posts, who was sniping? I have no objections to local business ventures, infact I am all for independent businesses. The point I obviously failed to make was I believe a building of such historic importance should remain in the public domain for everyone including children. Which is quite different from 'moaning or sniping' at Platform Tavern personally, actually I did not even mention their name prior. I did mock the stone throwing bit, well it was sadly laughable.

Just because I am interested in the arts and wish a larger arts culture with more varied outlets in Southampton, I assure you we are all as individual as the Dancing Man is to the Indian Restaurant is to the Platform Tavern. EA has not even commented as far as I know, and certainly not written any blog to snipe at anyone. That would be a completely different arts group.
[quote][p][bold]Ciaran[/bold] wrote: So if you paid rent, why did you not bid to carry on running the Wool House? The only bidders were Dancing Man and an Indian Restaurant - no arts group. It was up for public tender, so if you didn't know, you have only yourself to blame. I have to say, throughout this whole saga, I think the arts group have ended up looking quite bad, which is a real shame. What they offered was quite interesting but the continual sniping and moaning has reflected very badly on them, in my opinion.[/p][/quote]I am not EA. So I did not bid. Just because I am on the side of more arts venues in Southampton does not mean I am EA, that was an assumption on your part. I was looking through the posts, who was sniping? I have no objections to local business ventures, infact I am all for independent businesses. The point I obviously failed to make was I believe a building of such historic importance should remain in the public domain for everyone including children. Which is quite different from 'moaning or sniping' at Platform Tavern personally, actually I did not even mention their name prior. I did mock the stone throwing bit, well it was sadly laughable. Just because I am interested in the arts and wish a larger arts culture with more varied outlets in Southampton, I assure you we are all as individual as the Dancing Man is to the Indian Restaurant is to the Platform Tavern. EA has not even commented as far as I know, and certainly not written any blog to snipe at anyone. That would be a completely different arts group. Artina
  • Score: 1

10:58am Sat 11 Jan 14

Artina says...

Ciaran wrote:
Sorry, submitted that a little too quickly. I meant to add, it has reflected badly on them bearing in mind the pledge to help them find somewhere else, the help in allowing to use the Wool House in the first place and the fact they have been so disparaging to the Platform Tavern plan - with no real reason to be other than petty bitterness.

They could have bid for it, but they didn't. That's no-one else's fault but their's.
Just learned, so did not say until I had found out the facts, (a small detail that is often overlooked), the council invited bids from commercial business only, as a not for profit venture EA were not eligible to bid, so any attempt by them was disallowed. EA distanced themselves from any arguments too. So I invite you to show me where this petty bitterness has been published or broadcast. I personally cannot wait until a larger outlet for art is in Southampton, at this moment in time it is very small, select, and non varied. I fully believe art is for all, it is educational, and any cultural city should cater to all levels, which at the present time Southampton does not. (Southampton was bidding for the city of culture, which of course it failed on abysmally).
[quote][p][bold]Ciaran[/bold] wrote: Sorry, submitted that a little too quickly. I meant to add, it has reflected badly on them bearing in mind the pledge to help them find somewhere else, the help in allowing to use the Wool House in the first place and the fact they have been so disparaging to the Platform Tavern plan - with no real reason to be other than petty bitterness. They could have bid for it, but they didn't. That's no-one else's fault but their's.[/p][/quote]Just learned, so did not say until I had found out the facts, (a small detail that is often overlooked), the council invited bids from commercial business only, as a not for profit venture EA were not eligible to bid, so any attempt by them was disallowed. EA distanced themselves from any arguments too. So I invite you to show me where this petty bitterness has been published or broadcast. I personally cannot wait until a larger outlet for art is in Southampton, at this moment in time it is very small, select, and non varied. I fully believe art is for all, it is educational, and any cultural city should cater to all levels, which at the present time Southampton does not. (Southampton was bidding for the city of culture, which of course it failed on abysmally). Artina
  • Score: 0

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