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BEFORE WE BEGIN . . .

Thursday, 19 April 2018 17:39

Readers may be under the impression that having been awarded enough funding to restore the mausoleum, we simply employ a builder and let them get on with it. In reality, there is a great deal of preparatory  work necessary before restoration can be started.

Firstly, all the funders required us to own or lease the mausoleum, partly for Public Liability reasons, and partly to prevent the accusation of public funds being used for improvements to assets from which a private individual or company could benefit in future. After prolonged negotiation with Lothian Estates, the Friends have agreed the terms of a ten-year lease of the mausoleum and access track, at a peppercorn rent. The Lease will start on 1st April (Easter Day) and run for ten years. There is provision for transfer of the lease to another not-for-profit organisation should the Friends be unable to complete the term. 

Secondly, the track up to the mausoleum is not suitable for contractor's vehicles, being soft and very rutted in places. As part of the lease agreement, Lothian Estates will improve the track to allow heavy vehicle access up to the hard-standing on the north side of the enclosure. This will mean a small loss of amenity during the works as the current grassy walkway will become a metalled road with access from the A68 trunk road. We are hoping that public access for walkers can be maintained (with caution) during the works, although the mausoleum will, of course, be out of bounds to the public, as the whole compound will be a designated building site.

Finally, each funding award has its own criteria regarding what the money can, and cannot, be used for. The WREN award is the most specific in it’s requirements - it can only be used for repair of the roof and walls, replacement of the glass stars, and internal cleaning of the building. Further, the award is only available until February 2019 -  if the works extend beyond then, there is a likelihood we could lose the funding. Similarly, the BCCF award must be used primarily for improving public access, which can include replacing the crypt doors, improving footpaths and signage. We have until September 2019 to use that award. Fallago are more relaxed in their requirements, as long as the work is completed by 31st December 2019 or earlier. 

So there is a good amount of juggling to be done with the budget as the works progress, to ensure all the funding is deployed by the relevant deadlines. We are fortunate that Scottish Borders Council have confirmed that Listed Building Consent is not required for the works, being a like-for-like restoration, rather than an extension or alteration. This will save us a great deal of time and money, and we are grateful for their assistance and enthusiasm.