Stable Barn

Positive Futures & Stronger Communities Campaign

Re-purposing Stable Barn for the Community of Witney

Front of Stable Barn
Figure 1 – Stable Barn. A dilapidated Georgian stable block, purchased after local people generously gave £120,000.

The story of Stable Barn…

We are a local charity – Witney Buttercross Scout Group – based in Witney, a small market town in West Oxfordshire famous around the world for ‘Witney blankets’.

Through the scouting values of care, respect, integrity, cooperation and belief, we engage Young People from all backgrounds in their personal development – helping them grow their sense of self-confidence, teamworking skills and emotional resilience – empowering them to make a positive contribution to society.

We represent the 5th largest scout group in the UK, a growth that has come about through purposeful planning and leadership over 40 years as Witney doubled its population: our scout sections now number 5 Beaver colonies, 5 Cub packs and 4 Scout troops.

Our HQ base in Marlborough Lane behind the Market Square is open for use by:

local organisations and charitiesday-timeMonday to Sunday
our scout sectionseveningsMonday to Friday

Asking the community what they need

When our Scout Hall HQ reached bursting point, and we could no longer sign up any more Young People nor could we offer any more space for local organisations, we undertook a Social Audit, asking our Young People, their families, the wider community and those who seek to operate services or activities in central Witney to identify what needs were not currently being met in central Witney.  This survey revealed two key needs:

  1. the number of Young People wishing to join our Scout group continues to outstrip our capacity to serve them: 104 Young People have remained on our waiting list for 2 years.
  2. our market town has too few small, ‘neutral’ meeting spaces for:
    • health and social services to offer local families and individuals confidential consultations,
    • arts, history, and leisure organisations to rent for their local activities.

A ‘Once-in-a-Generation’ Opportunity

When Stable Barn – a disused, two-storey stone building opposite the Scout Hall – came up for sale, the Scout Group trustees seized this extraordinary opportunity: local people and businesses came together to raise the £120,000 needed to purchase it. 

We have now launched our Positive Futures & Stronger Communities Campaign to restore and repurpose this unique building in our townscape: to date local people, local businesses and Oxfordshire grant-making trusts have given the first £146,400.

We envisage restoring this once fine building and repurposing it – with Access for All facilities –  as a space that:

  • brings together youngsters aged 6-18 from all backgrounds and abilities in shared activities that will transform their outlook of themselves, and their capacity to play an active role in their community and the wider world. 23% of the building’s schedule
  • provides the wider community with the kind of small, affordable, discrete, secular meeting space that they need to attend classes, workshops and private consultations that health, social services and community organisations such as Turning Points NHS programme (supporting families and individuals affected by alcohol and drugs) want to deliver in central Witney. 77%of the building’s schedule

NOTE  Stable Barn will also provide urgently needed storage space for the large volume of outdoor adventure equipment currently stored in rented garages around the town.

Stable Barn’s building plans

The first phase of building works will weather-proof and restore this unique survivor of Georgian Witney. (See A Unique Survivor of Witney’s Georgian Hospitality)

Whilst purchasing Stable Barn, we discovered that the wooden furniture from one of the original six stable stalls has survived.  So that all users of the building can benefit from seeing this unique heritage item from a key period in Witney’s history, we aim to preserve this stall within the building’s new vestibule.

After re-roofing, weather-proofing and restoration, we will:

  • refit the building interior
  • install mains and utilities
  • extend the building on the western elevation and build a second storey to the rear
  • install:
    • a WC and a disabled WC
    • a kitchen
    • a lift to the first floor
    • a meeting room
    • an office
    • a climbing wall
    • storage facilities.

Our Funding Challenge

Our overall aim is to complete all four phases of building development within a single 26-week schedule; this will keep costs for scaffolding and contractors at a minimum, and will ensure that the project is concluded as quickly as possible so that Stable Barn can begin to address the needs of all those we seek to serve in the local community.

Stable Barn Campaign

Local stagelocal people
local businesses
local organisations
Witney-based grant-making trusts
County stageOxfordshire-based grant-making
County organisations
National stageNational-level grant-making trustsIN PROGRESS
Funds raised thus far£146,400