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Sycamore Buildings Project

Banner of sycamore hall

Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Town Council wants to hear what you think about its vision and plans for the future of Sycamore Farm House and Sycamore Hall.

Acquired by the town council in 2021, the Sycamore Buildings form an important part of our town’s history and the town council was keen to have them both in public ownership.

The council has been working with the community to develop a plan for how the buildings could become a sustainable hub at the centre of our community. Our vision includes physically joining the buildings to create an inclusive venue that supports social, recreational, cultural, and educational activities.  It will also be used for council activities and the delivery of important local services to support residents.

What's happened so far?

Sycamore Farm House is a charming Grade II listed gem from the 18th Century, that sits right in the heart of Bletchley and Fenny Stratford.

This distinctive building was purchased by the town council in 2021 and has now become our main  office premises safeguarding an important part of our local heritage.  While the farmhouse is holding up well for its age, the limited disabled access and strict listed building rules make it difficult to make the building wheelchair friendly.

At the same time, the town council also acquired Sycamore Hall, next door to Sycamore Farm House, through a community handover from Milton Keynes City Council.

At the time of the handover Sycamore Hall was in minimal use by the public and needed substantial renovation. It is a building of its time with virtually no insulation in the walls or roof, a defunct heating system and a single glazed glass wall which is draughty and insecure. It has no disabled toilets or baby changing facilities and all the electrics need to be stripped out and replaced. The flat roof also needs to be replaced. 

Photo of sycamore hall

Since taking on the two buildings, the town council has been exploring the best way to link the buildings and once again put them at the centre of community life in Bletchley and Fenny Stratford.

What's the vision for the future? 

Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Town Council’s vision is that the two Sycamore buildings will be physically joined together to become a hub at the centre of the community for decades to come. 

This hub can then accommodate a wide range of locally based social, recreational, cultural, youth and educational activities and be used not only by the council and the community but also by other providers of local services. 

Joining the buildings will allow for the creation of a new entrance and reception area with disabled access throughout the Hall and the ground floor of Sycamore House.

The combined buildings will be modernised to enhance the flexibility of use and to improve the carbon footprint of the building, making it more sustainable. The building will also support delivery of vital local services, such as the Foodbank collection point, information and advice services, youth activities and community events. The location of the Sycamore Buildings in the centre of our area means it is accessible for all residents.

In recent years Bletchley and Fenny Stratford has lost community meeting spaces at Bletchley Library and the Warren. In the near future the Spotlight building at Serpentine Court will also be demolished as part of the Lakes regeneration.

Although a new community space is planned, this will not replace all the lost space and information about its planned use is not available to the town council at the present time. We know that many groups and organisations cannot find suitable space for their activities especially if they do not want to use a church or school. 

Meanwhile the number of households in our area has increased over the past 10 years, with the population for our town now standing at 21,500 (2021 census data) and our current community buildings are already well used on a daily basis.

Following consultation with the community, planning permission for the proposed alterations to the building was sought and granted by Milton Keynes City Council in October 2023 (Application no: 23/01793/FUL).

The town council is now consulting with residents and the wider community on next steps.

What the Sycamore Buildings renovation plans include so far... 

All of the space will be available to the wider community and to organisations working in our area to provide local services and support for our residents. Plans for the new building so far include:

  • Construction of a physical link between buildings with an accessible entrance and reception area
  • Refurbishment of a café / bar area and kitchen
  • Small meeting/counselling rooms
  • Multi use community hall suitable for physical, social and general activities
  • Hybrid meeting room and training facilities in barn
  • Four office rooms for council staff on the first floor of Sycamore House
  • Raising of the roof of Sycamore Hall to allow introduction of insulation and insulation of the barn 
  • Replacement of the single glazed glass façade with double or triple glazing
  • Strip out of asbestos, obsolete electrics and gas heating system and replacement with electric heating
  • New disabled toilets
  • Reconfiguration of common spaces

Why is the town council doing this now?

We are soon losing the Spotlight community building, from where we currently deliver services. As as a result, there is an urgent need to find alternative, long-term provision to deliver a range of community services. We need a location in the centre of our area which is accessible to all.

The council took on the Sycamore Buildings back in 2021 knowing that it would require renovation. The council has taken time to carefully assess what is necessary to make the Sycamore Buildings into a valued community asset that meets the needs of our area. 

Planning and conservation teams have been consulted to ensure we treat the project with care and sensitivity, whilst seeking to protect and enhance the buildings. The council has looked at phasing the refurbishment of the building over a longer period but after studying high level costings for the work has determined that this would add considerably to the overall cost.


What are the likely costs involved?

The estimated cost of the Sycamore Buildings Project is £1,562,295. The town council has allocated £650,000 from its capital programme and general reserve and plans that the balance of the project will be funded by a combination of grants, fundraising and borrowing from the Public Works Loan Board. It is very common for local councils to borrow funds in this way to help deliver projects such as renovating the Sycamore Buildings.

It may be necessary to borrow up to £750,000 over a period of up to 35 years depending on how much funding can be raised by other means. It is planned that borrowing will be kept to a minimum and, based on interest rates at the time of writing, it is not planned to increase the precept (the council’s share of council tax) to meet the loan repayments.

What happens if the council does ‘nothing’?

Since the town council acquired both Sycamore Farmhouse and Sycamore Hall back in 2021, we have engaged with the community to develop a long-term vision and plan to bring the buildings back into wider community use. We believe the Sycamore Buildings, which sit at the very heart of our town, can become a sustainable, inclusive community asset that everyone can enjoy. If the council fails to act, and to act in a way that is fit for the future, the buildings will not last for generations to come. We believe the project will provide flexible and modern spaces which will be an asset for decades to come.  

How can you have your say on this project?

We would love to hear your feedback on this project and get your views on how the facility could be used. If you would like a tour of the buildings as they are now please contact us on 01908 649469 to make arrangements.  Please tell us your views using our short survey.