OBJECTIONS have been raised against a new vision for a Bridport landmark.

A plan for the use of Literary and Scientific Institute (LSi) in East Street was announced last month. It will see the building host three tenants - Crowdfunder, 3DCentre (3DC) and an unnamed financial services company.

Trustees believe this is a solution which 'ensures a viable and sustainable future for the LSi' which has been under financial pressure.

The LSi was built in 1835 and reopened its doors in 2018, after been saved from its near-derelict state by the Bridport Area Development Trust's (BADT) 10-year restoration project.

It was already facing financial problems last year as costs exceeded income from hirings, events and the café - the pandemic exacerbated these issues and gave the trust new urgency to finding a way forward.

But moves to bring in new tenants have been met with criticism amid fears the facility will no longer be accessible to the community.

Chasing Cow Productions - a west Dorset arts and filmmaking collective - has published a response to the plans and has been collecting signatures. It feels the BADT's decision 'must be reversed'.

It claims a 'promised' public consultation never took place prior to the announcement, the companies involved 'offer nothing' to the community, and it does not believe the plan justifies the money and time spent on renovating the building and protecting it as a community resource.

The response also claims the tenants are unsuitable as Crowdfunder is a for-profit company, 3DC is a community interest company rather than a charity and the financial services company is unnamed and private.

Around 120 people have signed the public response so far.

Disappointed residents have let their feelings be known with their comments, with one saying: "The town was promised the building would be kept as a public facility."

Another commented: "It is upsetting to see all the community effort and funding that was put into the LSI project now benefitting a select few organisations."

The LSi has been closed since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, but prior to this was used to provide space for work for groups and start ups, where they could collaborate and share information and skills.

Chasing Cow is championing an alternative proposal for the building put forward by the Arts Development Company (ADC) which would include open space and be run by a large consortium of creative and business organisations.

Fred Warren, co-founder of Chasing Cow said: "The LSi’s history is a fascinating story of genuine community will prevailing over the commercial path of least resistance.

"Now, in a case of déjà vu, it seems that the commercial path has once again been reverted to.

"This decision must be reversed, the promised public consultation undertaken, and a new chapter in the LSi’s history started because, as it stands, ‘the future of an iconic landmark’ looks more like a sorry end."

A spokesperson for BADT said: “The LSi is a historic building, and costly to maintain. As a ‘working building’ it also requires technology and facilities that are up to date, safe and fully functional – everything from lifts for access for everyone to high-speed broadband. The cost of running the building with one staff member is £80,000 a year.

“The Trust wants the community to know the challenges that made it essential to appraise the LSi's position with the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and other major stakeholders, using independent feasibility studies, to achieve a realistic, sustainable solution.

“Everyone involved in the partnership wants to provide financial stability while staying true to the vision and principles upon which the building was regenerated.

“In the past year the Trust has significantly reduced running costs and successfully applied for grants that have enabled the LSi to get through the Covid crisis. Without these grants the LSi would have gone under. But the building also needs a reliable income to survive in the long term.”

To read the public response in full visit www.chasingcow.co.uk/moop and click on the 'Buildings for Buzzwords' link.