Charity to transform a vacant Shepton Mallet town centre property thanks to social investment funding from Somerset Community Foundation
Interim Spaces, a charity that transforms otherwise empty commercial properties into cultural venues and workspaces, has recently secured £264,000 in funding to renovate 10 Market Place, a previously vacant historic building located in the heart of Shepton Mallet. The funding includes a £120,000 award from Somerset Community Foundation’s Somerset Social Enterprise Fund programme.
Amelia Thompson, Senior Programmes Manager at Somerset Community Foundation – who manage the Somerset Social Enterprise Fund (SSEF) – explains: “Thanks to initial funding from Somerset Council and the Access Foundation’s Growth Fund*, we were delighted to invest in Interim’s first project outside of London. We’re very excited to see the project develop, creating new opportunities for local residents and helping the development of Shepton Mallet’s town centre.
“It’s the final investment from SSEF as it currently stands, and we’re now working hard behind the scenes to create a new social investment product which will be launched in the new year. We’ll have more news to follow shortly – so watch this space!”
With the funding, which consisted of £80,000 loan and £40,000 grant, Interim Spaces plan to transform the space into a rent-free ‘retail lab’, testing ideas for the High Street, as well as a hire space for local and regional talent. The project aims to be fully operational by April 2024.
Dan Simon, Director of Interim Spaces, said: “This funding enables us to rejuvenate an historic building while providing a vital platform for innovators to test new ideas. High Streets across the UK are in desperate need of revitalisation, and initiatives that allow businesses to innovate in retail settings serve as a progressive step towards that objective. We are hugely grateful to our funders and the support we have received from Shepton Mallet Town Council.”
The renovation works include much needed repair to the roof and oriel bay window, and the restoration of some original features. During a careful strip-out, an original stone wall with a shuttered window was uncovered after some stud walling was removed. 10 Market Place is an historic, Grade II listed building in the market place of Shepton Mallet, dating back to the 16th century. First recorded commercial use was as a china shop in 1845. Originally, it would have been a dwelling house. Some more of the building’s interesting history can be found at: www.10marketplace.uk
*The Growth Fund is a partnership between The National Lottery Community Fund and Big Society Capital, delivered by Access through a range of social investors including Somerset Community Foundation. It makes up to £50m available to support charities and social enterprises to grow and create social impact in their communities. The Growth Fund uses a combination of grant funding, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, and loan finance from Big Society Capital and other co-investors to address specific gaps in the social investment market.