Bowmore Hall Consultation

In 2005, Argyll & Bute Council wished to close Bowmore Hall in order to save costs. Local people were strongly opposed to this and a steering group was formed to prevent the hall's closure. Closure could only be prevented if the community took on responsibility for the building and that its transfer would be subject to production of a business plan. West Highland Housing Association who have housing in Bowmore were keen to support the community and so commissioned Community Links Scotland to work with the village hall group to produce the business plan.

Whilst a desktop local needs analysis and policy context were important background to the business plan, community consultation was key to the background research. Initially we carried out an island-wide consultation of 10% of the resident population. Householder questionnaires were promoted and completed on the street and door to door, copies were also circulated on the ferry and left in the local Co-op, the local banks and the local surgery together with an information board about the impending closure of the hall. The questionnaire aimed to identify the level of use and the measure of loyalty to Bowmore Hall both in the village and across the island. Additionally, we wanted to establish what additional facilities, activities and services would benefit the community if provided in the hall and whether people wanted to upgrade the existing hall or replace it with a new one. Concurrent to the householder questionnaires, appropriate postal surveys were also sent out to local service providers and local community groups including users and non users of the hall.

Consultation results were analysed and informed the brief for the architects who were to provide design proposals and costings as part of the business plan. The community opted to keep and upgrade the existing building and therefore the final document included all the research findings and a business plan and funding strategy based on design proposals for the upgraded hall. Following the production of the business plan, the community took ownership of the hall and thereby saved the best dance floor on the island!