Issue date: 08 November 2004

An innovative proposal to regenerate Winterbourne Medieval Barn by turning it into a Centre for Rural Regeneration has been proposed by a researcher from UWE’s Faculty of the Built Environment. ‘Action Researcher’ Richard Spalding has just completed a seven month secondment funded by South Gloucestershire Council to create and develop the capacity of Winterbourne Medieval Barn Trust.

Richard said, “I have been involved in this project as an ‘action researcher’, a slightly different concept to most research projects that involve qualitative and quantitative reporting. The work has been a collaborative effort with the trust to help identify the best way forward to regenerate a beautiful and important historic building by giving it a new but relevant role in the local community. My report advocates the creation of a Centre for Rural Regeneration based on educational and commercial activities related to sustainable food and farming, heritage education and small business support.

“My experience of being away from UWE and at work in a local community initiative has been challenging and rewarding. My long term hope is that this kind of action research will help to show the potential gains to be had from an academic involvement with a regional rural development project.”

Winterbourne Medieval Barn is part of a unique 14th century complex and the work that Richard has been doing for the trust has been featured on the BBC Restoration website. He has also recently presented a paper about the project at the International Sustainable Development Research Conference at the University of Manchester entitled ‘Barn Again- championing the revitalisation of a medieval agricultural building for sustainability purposes – the case of Winterbourne Barn, South Gloucestershire and me’.

The trust aims to revitalise the historic agricultural building and its landscape for the purposes of sustainability. Richard is currently finalising the establishment of a charitable trust that will involve negotiating a lease with the council and raising £1.4 million to implement the project.

Kathleen Marsh has been involved with the regeneration project since the beginning. She said, “My experience as a CPRE volunteer spurred me on to get involved with saving this important and beautiful barn from demolition. Richard’s academic vision and practical approach has been inspirational to all of us. He has so many good ideas but also the ability to see ideas through from inception to actuality. We are waiting on trust status which will enable us to take the project forward and to fundraise. We are confident that this will happen. We have the support of English Heritage, the local Parish Council, South Gloucestershire unitary authority and a team of volunteers determined to save the building and make it relevant and useful to the local and wider community.”


Editor’s notes

Jpeg visual available upon request.

Caption: Richard Spalding outside the Winterbourne Medieval Barn.

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