One of Bristol’s oldest charities is finalising the purchase of the Vassall Centre in Fishponds, which currently offers affordable, accessible workspace and conference facilities for charities and not-for-profit organisations.
Bristol Charities provides opportunities and support for people and communities to improve lives through grants, housing and charitable projects in Bristol and South Wales.
The charity’s ambition for the Vassall Centre is to build a new, contemporary almshouse on one end of the site offering, high quality affordable homes for older people whilst retaining accessible, affordable rented office space for charities and local organisations.
Ideas for the site and new housing facility are at a very early stage and Bristol Charities is keen to engage fully with tenants and the local community to help inform plans, but the team intends to maintain all current tenancies. In time and under a phased refurbishment programme, office accommodation will be modernised to improve the quality of space for all tenants and Bristol Charities is keen to explore options for opening up the Vassall Centre site and facilities for the local community.
Anne Anketell, chief executive officer at Bristol Charities says: “We are really excited by the opportunity the Vassall Centre presents to provide much-needed, affordable and high-quality homes for older people in Fishponds, along with contemporary, accessible office space for charities and not-for-profit organisations.
“Plans are at a very early stage and we look forward to working closely with current tenants and the neighbouring community to help inform ideas and designs.”
Richard Gore, chair of trustees at Bristol Charities added: “There is a strong sense of community and partnership amongst the tenants at the Vassall Centre and we are looking forward to working with them to upgrade and improve the facilities and shape our future plans for the site.
“As well providing contemporary, affordable and accessible housing for older people, it is our hope that The Centre will also provide additional opportunities to extend the reach and impact of our charitable activities in Bristol. We are also aiming to explore options to open up the site for the wider use and benefit of people living nearby.”
Nick Roads, director at VC Conferences, which currently owns the Centre, added: “We have owned and managed the Vassall Centre for the last seven years. It has been an exciting time transitioning the Centre from the threat of closure to being fully occupied in 2019 with a vibrant mix of users. As a small company the last year has been challenging and while there has been fantastic support, we feel the next few years are going to see changes in how properties are used and run. We are delighted that Bristol Charities have agreed to take over the ownership and have confidence that they can offer interesting options for the future of the Centre for both the short and long term.”
Bristol Charities’ purchase of the Vassall Centre site has been approved by the Charity Commission.
The UK registered charity provides a range of affordable sheltered, retirement and extra care housing facilities for older people with sites including in Brentry, in Henbury , in Stockwood and William Jones Almshouse in Monmouth.