The Enfield Society has published Ever Stronger: Revising Enfield Council’s Plans on Dugdale Centre/Thomas Hardy House, a new alternative proposal to Enfield Council and Cabinet to avoid unnecessary planned changes at the Dugdale Centre / Thomas Hardy House.
Our proposal, Ever Stronger: Revising Enfield Council’s Plans on Dugdale Centre/Thomas Hardy House, still brings Children’s and Youth Services together at Enfield Town but crucially offers a reduction in planned costs and even brings in new investment. It is a compromise from the vision of one giant Children’s and Youth Services office (creating instead a large new hub and secondary extension) but the priority here is finding solutions that improve all services, that work within limited resources, and offer the best value for money. In summary it provides the following major benefits:
- Reduce the planned costs
- Increase financial returns and attract new investment
- Factor in the vast shift away from fixed office working, post Covid-19
- Utilise the 1500 square metres of new office space soon available at the Civic Centre
- Future proof the Dugdale Centre for increased hire and shift in use of public space
- Avoid large costs of moving archives and fitting out new space
- Avoids large costs for permanent re-modeling of Thomas Hardy House / Dugdale centre
- Work positively with Council stakeholders
- Use Museums and Archives Services as part of the Council’s post Covid-19 resilience
The new proposal paper has been presented to match the Council’s own commitment to ensuring the active, meaningful and continued involvement of local communities and stakeholders. The document is titled Ever Stronger because that is what we collectively hope to achieve with the Council and we hope it offers them time to pause and reflect on current proposals and start renewed and revised discussions on the issue.
What’s wrong with LBE’s proposal?
The existing Council proposal includes largely unannounced cuts to the local museum, completely axing a £0.5M conference suite and relegating the local Archives Service from its bespoke built space next to the Museum.
The current approach would also see an annual loss of income from the conference suite starting at £100,000 and 60,000 fewer visits to the Dugdale Centre and Enfield Town.
The drive behind Council changes is to turn over two complete floors at the Dugdale Centre / Thomas Hardy House to fixed office space and enable the Children’s and Youth Services to move closer together, from three existing community hubs, and work centrally in Enfield Town.
Whilst the second floor already contains offices, the Council’s plan now replaces the open first floor at the Dugdale Centre with fixed closed office space. In doing so the impact includes:
- Cutting the public museum space by half
- Cutting a half million pound conference suite facility
- Subsequent loss in users and annual income from the conference suite starting at £100,000
- Relegating a purpose built Archives Service space and moving it away from the museum
- Losing over 60,000 visitors to the first floor at the Dugdale Centre and, consequently, Enfield Town
Significantly, the Council’s current proposal fails to factor in the new dramatic shift away from office working and ignores the 1500 square metres of new free office space at the Civic Centre only 400 metres from the Dugdale Centre (noted in March 2020 Cabinet papers).