In this update:
* Planning Permission
*Sport England and what it might mean
Rowing News: There is little to report on the rowing front with conditions at red light or red/amber for much of the last month and races cancelled.
Property: We are coming to a critical stage of the project and there will be a member’s meeting on 12th March to discuss progress and whether and how to proceed. This is the most important meetings for the club for decades – please come and make sure that the club is developed the right way for our lifetimes.
Planning: The designs for the new building were unanimously approved by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead planning committee. The committee were complimentary about the club and its value to the area. However they weren’t formally able to grant planning permission because of an outstanding Environment Agency objection which we’re working to overcome. The approvals generated press interest in the club and you can see in the club Facebook and Twitter sites links to coverage on the BBC, ITV and local press.
Sport England: Our application with Sport England is progressing well although there is more to do.
Any Sport England money would be tied to the “Watersports Hub” concept. This means we will, under binding contracts, allow other local watersports clubs access to the new building – primarily the gym and the bar area. This will give them the benefits of a gym and clubhouse on the river, while bringing in revenue (in fees and bar use) to help us run the building. The land and building will remain wholly owned by the club or its subsidiary company. We may have a user group with participation from the other clubs, but the building will remain MRC’s. At the moment no contracts have been signed, but the clubs we are talking to are Marlow Canoe Club, Longridge Canoe Club, Wycombe Triathlon Club and Henley Open Water Swimming Club. The existing practice of allowing use by local groups will continue.
In addition Sport England shares our enthusiasm for Adaptive Rowing. We have had discussions with the Adaptive Rowing development staff at British Rowing about Adaptive Rowing generally, and about British Rowing’s new elite pathway in particular. If we patch up the existing building we would be able to provide facilities that were more accessible than before, but it is the full rebuild as the Watersports Hub that truly enables this.
Land: Our purchase of the freehold of the club is complete, and is being registered at the Land Registry now. We remain in discussions with the councils about the boat storage land under Marlow Bridge and we are grateful to Theresa May MP for writing to the councils to help move this forward.
Club Meeting: All members will be receiving a letter shortly calling a club meeting. We are now at the point where we have a fairly clear picture of what the Watersports Hub rebuild will look like, whether it is affordable and how it would work. We are also reaching the point where we would have to take binding decisions with Sport England and spend serious money on further design and consultants. All members are invited to the meeting to discuss the plans.
This is a very important meeting for the club and all members are encouraged to attend on 12th March. We will also hold a club EGM in order to fix the date for transfer of the assets to the Charity (and HMRC requirement) and authorise some technical documentation.
Property SC: The PSC are looking at the next steps for the building process, including doing a prequalification of potential tenderers for the building work, getting structural calculations for the building structure, engaging with the local archaeology service, the tree officers and the on-going discussions with the Environment Agency. We would aim to get a dozen responses to the pre-qualification document – if there are building companies with particular expertise in buildings of this size and nature of whom you are aware, please send their details to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
There was also a discussion with the Fundraising group about how building sponsors and donors could be acknowledged in the building – all donors would be acknowledged in some way, but more significant donors may have areas e.g. the gym or boat bays named after them.
We are looking at how rowing can continue while we are off site. Some boating from the site may be possible and other sites above and below the lock are being considered. We are also looking at where a temporary gym would go, as we would be off-site for many months.
Fundraising SC: A fundraising plan was approved by the committee in the last few months. It calls for various fundraising areas, including other grant funding, commercial sponsorship and fundraising from individuals. Work on corporate and grant sponsorship is ongoing. For individual donors, the there will be five tiers of donors: Gold donors who give £10k or more, Silver donors (£5k) and Bronze donors (£1k). Above that there are one or two very sizable donors who will receive special recognition. At the lower end all donors are appreciated and a way to given smaller sums and be acknowledged for that will be put in place too. Donors who have given already will be brought within the scheme. For those who can claim Gift Aid (worth around 25% on top of the gift) that can be used to top-up a donation to meet one of these levels (Bronze = £800+Gift Aid).
Membership: David Plaskitt has taken over as membership secretary (email@example.com). Membership renewals (9 months this time) are now due, so please hurry and renew – the club needs the money! Racking renewal can be done at the same time, but any specific queries to the racking administrator (firstname.lastname@example.org) – Suzi Moon is managing that.
Adult Learn to Row: Our Adult Learn to Row administrator has stepped down and so we need a new one. Learn to Row is critical to the club – it brings in new members and raises money – so we need to make it work well. The administrator sets courses up on the website, sends out the course emails, answers queries, and liases with the coaches. It’s a job you can do in front of the TV as it’s all email and website based. No particular rowing expertise is required.
Club Welfare Officer: We have a new club welfare officer. Thanks to Helen Cousins for taking on this important role. You can contact Helen via email@example.com.