The OCM Project

The Old Cattle Market Project – Our Story


The Old Cattle Market project is a new two storey multi-use building housing a business and community hub serving the Town of Helston and its surrounding 22 rural parishes which make up the South Kerrier area in west Cornwall.

The Challenge 

An important part of Helston’s economy died when its cattle market, which had opened in 1955, closed due to problems caused by foot and mouth and mad cow disease in 2001. This left a series of derelict sheds on a prominent site in the town. In the years following the closure of the market a number of other local problems had been identified:

•  A market failure in the provision serviced office accommodation for start up and micro-businesses.

•  Need for increased provision of services from both public and third sector in the Helston area.

•  Need for a high quality events space.

The Old Cattle Market project was developed to address these issues and again provide an important focal point for the local community. The resulting building includes a large community hall, an adult day  care centre and fully serviced office spaces for local businesses.

The project also develops a sustainable asset base for the South Kerrier Alliance CIC, the social enterprise leading the development. This will help embed the Alliance’s long-term role in leading community regeneration across South Kerrier.

Developing the area

Ideas to redevelop the former Cattle Market site began almost as soon as the market ceased in 2001. However, it was not until 2006 that these ideas had been consolidated into a plan when the development was identified as part of the South Kerrier Alliance Community Plan. The plan was developed through the Market and Coastal Towns Initiative with the support of Kerrier District Council. Input into the plan was sought from a wide range of people and groups from within the local community by means of conferences, workshops and meetings.

The building was identified as a ‘flagship’ project for the area aimed at supporting the local food economy and small producers through the establishment of a regular farmer’s market venue as well as providing space for local businesses and community space for a wide range of groups and clubs.

Making it happen

South Kerrier Alliance was supported to develop the project by Kerrier District Council who owned the site and who, with the Alliance in 2005, jointly commissioned the first feasibility study to investigate  the viability of creating and running a multi-use building on the cattle market site and inform the design of the building. At the same time businesses in west Cornwall were being interviewed about the need for premises as part of the West Cornwall Supported Office Space Feasibility study. This demonstrated a market failure in the supply of affordable office space.

The conclusions of the feasibility study stated that a scheme including offices, a large hall and ground floor units could be self-sustaining and that a social enterprise offered the best prospect of developing and running the development. The then Kerrier District Council formally adopted the findings of the feasibility study and provided Officer time to support its implementation.

Following the launch of the Kerrier Community Plan in 2006, the South Kerrier Alliance formed delivery groups charged with delivering actions and projects from the plan. In order to be able to apply for funding to run projects in their own right and to carry out income generating work the Alliance became a Community Interest Company (CIC) in 2008.

The District Council agreed to obtain planning permission for a new development and invested extensive officer time in taking the project to planning consent stage. Initial building designs were prepared based on the findings from the feasibility study. These were subsequently developed through a series of public consultations. In total the District Council invested approximately £40,000 in gaining planning

An additional feasibility study was commissioned in 2010 to further explore the market demand and update previous work, particularly around the need for microbusiness units and incubation space. This study again demonstrated demand for office and business incubation space, as well as the need for a community & events space. permission for the development. This in-kind support was crucial, as the Alliance did not have this level of seed-corn funding available.

During this time South Kerrier Alliance, with the support of a Regeneration Officer from Cornwall Council, began investigating the possibility of RDPE funding from the CASE strand of the programme. They had already established the basic ERDF funding as well as a loan from Capacity Builders. RDPE funding was needed to support the community side of the mutli-use building and enable the development to take place, without this investment the project would not have gone ahead.

Funding for the project proved complex. In the autumn of 2009 the Alliance approached Community Builders and were invited to make an application. This would be for a mix of grant and loan investment. During 2010 the Alliance established eligibility of the project for the Convergence European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and identified Rural Development Fund for England (RDPE) as potential funder to support the community side of the mutli-use development. RDPE funding was crucial, without this investment the project would not have gone ahead.

In mid 2010 the project was presented to representatives of ERDF and RDPE who agreed to jointly assess an application. Our funding strategy was in place and all we needed now was development funds to progress the project to a level of detail suitable for a capital grant application and to tender the build contract. Financial support for this crucial stage was provided by Capacity Builders through a feasibility grant and from the West Cornwall Local Action Group.

The final piece of the jigsaw was to secure a cash flow loan as both the ERDF and RDPE grants were paid in arrears. Cornwall Council offered us a loan facility and we finally received funding approvals in March 2011.

The build was managed under a collaborative NEC3 Option C form of contract. This enabled continued input into the design process by the South Kerrier Team as a way of capturing ongoing consultation inputs and developing savings in construction costs. The building, designed and built to BREEAM Excellent standards was delivered on time and on budget.

Keeping it going

The building was completed on time within 12 months. The project had always targeted a build standard of BREEAM Excellence. Many of the key features incorporated to meet this target will help reduce ongoing running costs, including:

• Use of natural ventilation

• Incorporation of renewable energy via solar PV panels

• Energy controls based on movement sensors and daylight sensing

• High levels of insulation and low levels of air leakage.

The building was officially opened in May 2012 with a big community celebration. All the first floor office spaces were fully let within two months of the building’s completion, providing a regular steady income. This gives the Alliance financial peace of mind, ensuring regular day-to-day operating costs are met including the salary of a centre manager who has been employed to manage bookings, tenants, market the facility and manage the day-to-day operation of the centre.

The ground floor accommodates another key anchor tenet, Cornwall Council’s Adult Care and Support Service, who provide a day centre and much needed respite care facilities for the area. The space they occupy was fitted out in accordance with the needs and requirements of their clients.

The successful local monthly farmers’ market, also organised by the South Kerrier Alliance, has moved into its permanent home in the events hall.

The market hall was designed to be as flexible as possible to provide the local community with a multiuse space. It is extremely capable as a conference and training facility, a place for wedding receptions, balls, parties and music events as well as providing space for clubs, classes and activities for all age groups. Its multi purpose capability is proving successful with high demand for its use.

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