– Invitation to Community Groups or Organisations to get involved with the Appley Tower project

Appley Tower – Invitation to Community Groups or Organisations From Natural Enterprise.

Since 2018 Natural Enterprise has been working with Ryde Town Council on a project to restore Appley Tower. An initial Feasibility Study was completed to determine the cost of the repairs and to find a sustainable future for the tower. An element of community use has always been a key priority. Consequently, Natural Enterprise is inviting local community groups to bring forward proposals of how they would like to utilise some or all of the space in Appley Tower. It is anticipated that the final outcome will be mixed use model.

The Tower
Appley Tower has an imposing and somewhat mysterious presence along Garden Walk on Appley Beach, always generating curiosity among passers-by. It is a Grade II listed building and the folly was originally built by Sir William Hutt (1801-1882) in 1875 after acquiring the Appley Towers Estate in 1872. All that remains of the estate today is a few buildings at Appley Farm along Marlborough Road, Appley Park and Appley Tower. The tower was built as a seaside folly to provide views out on to the Solent and for entertaining guests, sometimes while watching yacht races on the Solent. Among the guests were King George V and Queen Mary.

The tower will include the area immediately around its base and the tower itself. So “AppleyTower” for our purposes includes an outdoor area, a ground floor, accessed by a single door and a first floor accessed by a stone staircase to its own single door. In the past, there were stairs inside the first floor up to a mezzanine level that, in turn, provided access to a narrow set of stairs up to a rooftop viewing platform. Natural Enterprise intends to restore this access to a restored and improved roof top viewing platform.

The Outdoor Space
The outdoor space that belongs to the tower is defined by the inside of the protective sea wall to the North and the northern edge of Garden Walk pavement to the South. The East and West boundaries roughly line up with the roofs of the beach shelters located on the other side of the sea wall. Please see the plans provided for detail. As part of the restoration project this area could be flattened and resurfaced to be more suitable for seating and potentially café style tables. Architect drawings indicate that there would be room to seat 52 people around 13 café style tables, as well as have a small pop-up kiosk.

The Ground Floor
The self-contained ground floor is accessed by a single, fairly narrow door, with the electrical controls panel for the whole tower located to the left and a small toilet and sink room to the right. The main room currently has wooden storage units built around the base of the wall that once doubled as seating. These are not an original feature and will be removed as part of the restoration. The main room is circular and has two narrow windows, one to each side, that provide a limited amount of natural light. The internal area of this floor is 18.46 metres square (m2), including the area occupied by the current toilet and basin arrangement. From a fire safety perspective, we understand that the maximum number of people that would be allowed in this space at any one time would be 11 or 12, subject to how the space might be utilised.

The First Floor
The stone staircase on the South side of the tower leads to the first floor door. The inside space is a circular area of 12.65 m2. Some of this will be lost to a restored staircase that will lead to a restored mezzanine level. As a public space, we believe that the maximum number of people that would be allowed in this space at any one time would be eight, subject to how much space is taken up by the stairs and any other features added to the space. This was the entertainment room of the tower and has a large window facing the Solent and two more windows, one to the East and one to the West.

The Mezzanine Floor
A mezzanine level is required for gaining access to the stone stairs that are located in the turret on the South-West side of the tower. Our current view is that this would take up just under half of the space above the first floor, so approximately 6 m2. Its primary function would be to provide a staging area for people moving up to see the views from the roof – or coming down. The stairs will only allow movement in one direction at a time. We believe that up to four people will be allowed to wait on the mezzanine level at any one time. One of these people will probably have to be a marshall.

The Rooftop Viewing Platform
Accessed via the South West turret, the rooftop viewing platform will require safety railings and rooftop repairs. We estimate the area to be 18.85 m2, which would allow a maximum of 13 people on the roof, subject to the 8-person limitation imposed by the space available on the First Floor as well as further inspection of the structural strength of the roof. For safety reasons, we think at least one of these people will have to be a marshall / historical guide. Our considered view is that the rooftop viewpoint will attract a significant number of visitors to the tower. We estimate that this aspect of the tower will draw as many people annually as do Newport Roman Villa, or the Bus & Coach Museum or the Donald McGill Saucy Postcard Museum in Ryde, i.e., in the region of 3,000 to 5,000 visitors a year.

What does sustainability mean? From Natural Enterprise’s perspective, we need to generate £16,300 a year to cover ongoing maintenance, a contingency fund, property insurance, business rates and some management time. This figure is subject to confirmation of insurance and rates charges. When the renovation work is complete, the aim is to ensure the tower will remain in a good state of repair. We hope to cover some of these costs from non-tower income sources, the balance will need to be tower rental income.

Further information to help you understand the potential of the space and possible income streams can be found in the Appendix, please email Graham Biss at graham.biss@naturalenterprise.co.uk for Appendix. Our assumptions on potential income streams are indicative and you may see better ways of creating value with your proposition.

Next Steps
The cost of repairs has been assessed at £223,000 before any structural improvements and therefore the plan is to seek a grant and the support of key partners.

The most likely sources of grant funding will require that the work will deliver greater community understanding and appreciation of the history of the tower and its place in Ryde’s history. Any organisation making proposals for usage of the tower would need to support and enable the delivery of these requirements.

As we build the case for the tower, we wish to try to incorporate at least an element of community use which ideally could dovetail with the potential income from people accessing the tower’s rooftop viewpoint. Architect drawings, community research results and some business model calculations can be made available if required.

We would like to hear from any interested groups or organisations by 11th June. If required a visit to the tower can be arranged. Interest or requests for more information to: Graham Biss at graham.biss@naturalenterprise.co.uk

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