Long lease secured for Wolverhampton activity centre
A canal-side activity centre which provides a range of activities to encourage people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the outdoors and in doing so, improve their health and appreciation of their local environment, has secured a new long lease which provides the charitable organisation with a positive future.
The negotiations were handled by Andy Ward of FBC Manby Bowdler’s specialist Commercial Property team.
Wildside Activity Centre, which is located alongside the canal on Hordern Road in Wolverhampton, started out almost 40 years ago as a water sports centre launched to commemorate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Over time, however, it has evolved and transformed itself to its current incarnation as a provider of environmental and adventure-based activities.
Following an end to local government funding, since 2014 the charity has needed to raise all its funds via a mix of donations, grants and through charging for certain activities. The security which a long-term lease affords the organisation, however, cannot be underestimated. Liz Hoggarth, a trustee and senior volunteer who manages the Centre, explains:
“During the time whilst we occupied the centre on a short-term agreement, there was always the fear that the City Council may need to review the lease and put our future in jeopardy.
“Simply, to have this new long lease in place provides us with both the security and status that our financial supporters require to commit to long-term funding. The trustees are, therefore, very grateful to the City Council for agreeing to make this Asset Transfer possible.”
Speaking on behalf of FBC Manby Bowdler, Andy Ward added: “Whilst a long lease is vital to an organisation like Wildside Activity Centre due to funding issues, this new lease signifies so much more than just that.
“Wildside’s offer is centred on its unique location. It’s an oasis of nature and wildlife yet is still within the city boundaries. It has direct access to woodland, the canal and sits alongside the Smestow Valley Nature Reserve. Simply, there’s nowhere nearby that can offer this same environment and so this new long lease will allow the organisation to remain where it needs to be to thrive.”
As with any lease negotiation, there were a number of points including boundary issues, old covenants and responsibility for repairs that needed to be smoothed out, but as Liz concludes, Andy and the team at FBC Manby Bowdler managed this professionally.
“Whilst I hadn’t worked with Andy or the wider team previously, a number of the Trustees at Wildside were familiar with FBC Manby Bowdler and so recommended we looked to them to handle our lease negotiations.
“Aside from these personal recommendations, we were additionally attracted to the team as they were locally based and came with an excellent reputation. And this has certainly been our experience working with them too. Andy in particular has been both thorough and patient through what has been, at times, a tricky process and his experience of working with other charitable organisations taking on such a commitment, became increasingly apparent as the negotiations progressed. I don’t doubt that the eventual positive outcome was in no small part due to his tenacity.”
With the new lease now confirmed, the team at Wildside Activity Centre is looking forward to a more secure future and is already expanding the range of activities offered and its provision for people with disabilities. The number of visitors continues to grow annually.