News - Throop Mill and Stour Valley Updates October 2015

NEW - Monday, 19th October 2015

NEW - Monday, 19th October 2015

Email from Michael Rowland, Parks Development Manager, Bournemouth Parks to Councillor Anne Rey
15th October 2015
Throop Mill and Stour Valley

Dear Anne

The Council are working on a new project in partnership with the RSPB to improve Granby Road Barn at Muscliff. This is a small project (approx £60,000) which will fund (via Lottery Funding) a member of RSPB staff to help us build community involvement and awareness for a bigger project for the area with the local community to protect and develop the heritage and conservation assets between Stour Valley Nature Reserve and Hicks Farm.

We have also started to talk, at a very preliminary level, with wider partners (National Trust, Natural England, Christchurch and East Dorset, Poole, Dorset, RSPB, Environment Agency and Dorset Wildlife Trust) to explore a bigger concept of the Stour Valley Regional Nature Park. This is looking at a series of landscape, access and nature projects between Hengistbury Head and Kingston Lacey that can be funded through a variety of available funding streams to deliver high quality, accessible and bio diverse spaces. A linked series of landscapes that will be important to residents and tourists alike.

There are certainly possibilities with Throop Mill, but as we do not own it, it is difficult to comment in any depth with any certainty. I would say that we are acutely aware of the conservation and heritage value it holds, which is one of the reasons why we have started to work as part of a wider partnership, with increased access to funding and potential influence to make a difference. I feel the way ahead is not through local protest, but through measured and discreet conversation with possible funders and tentatively with the owners.

As far as the Council being in a position to buy the mill by themselves, I have to say that to the best of knowledge, there is no likelihood of this. I would certainly not recommend it from a Parks perspective, it would at the very least be a £1m investment. The owner - again as far as I know - has a high asking price and the building would come with a large repair and operating bill. All the contents of the mill are also listed, meaning that it would be a difficult task to open a cafe/restaurant there. Even if a restaurant was possible, the costs would be prohibitive to all but wealthy long term investors. The only model that I can see working would be a charitable one, with a great deal of voluntary labour and public/charitable donations. There is a similar working mill a few miles up the Stour owned by the National Trust. This is opened and managed by volunteers and opens on summer weekends and bank holidays only.

Kind Regards,
Michael Rowland, Parks Development Manager, Bournemouth Parks