What’s happening at Sorby House?

Sorby House for rent

Story: Afrah Alkheili

Sorby House was funded £4.5 million refurbishment by Burngreave New Deal for Communities (BNDfC). It is now officially opened as first class office space to be used by interested business organisations across the city. With a quarter of the building reserved for community projects.

The Idea

The original proposal for Sorby House was associated with the idea that Burngreave needs a positive image, by the time the BNDFC money finishes in 2011. This meant creating a sustainable project that would remain supported by a business or an organisation, focused on economic regeneration. This would also complement Vestry Hall, all geared towards a purpose for nourishing their existence as successful mixed business used spaces, and as a backup for other voluntary projects in the area. This is meant to play a huge role in transforming the image of Burngreave as a place to live and work.

Why is Sorby House empty?

The business plan seems clear and well constructed. However what it remains unclear what is been happening currently in Sorby House. The Messenger tried to gather info on what is happening at present by asking whether there are any businesses signing up, if so how many? What interest is there in renting office space?

The Messenger spoke to New Deal’s Chief Executive John Clark, and Zoe Clarke of the NE group managing Sorby House, and dealing with business incubation space, and asked them whether the place is occupied yet? They stated that no one has moved in yet, as the management company who is in charge of attracting business orientated occupants, are still in the process of checking the building, to make sure that it is in perfect condition for people to move in.

I spoke to Linda Shepherd who is a Chief Executive for the NE group, she said that so far, 30 enquiries have been coming in continuously from interested organisations across the city over the last two months. 3 local organisations have registered officially to move in by the end of the month. I asked whether having conferences at Sorby would create a competition with Vestry Hall, Linda pointed that that would be balanced between the two.

High rents

Many organisations and individuals are questioning the rents. They argue that it is too high. What help is there for projects who cannot afford the rents, even after the discount? Particularly those who are only supported by funding. The Messenger spoke to the CAB who due to the poor state of their present building were keen to move in, however they stated that they cannot afford the rent. How are the managers of the building going to address issues like this? Linda could not give me an answer to this as she does not deal with rents.

How realistic is the 25% discount for community groups? Is the space going to be filled? Will there be a consideration to a further discount?. Linda explained that Sorby is in a good position, and filling the space would not be a huge obstacle to a profitable business. Further more she said that after the first year Sorby should be making enough profit to use for the purpose of sustaining existing projects in the community.

Still unclear

There is a need to clarify to the community many things that seem very unclear, since it is in our best interests to know what is happening with a building that has been established for the interests and the benefits of the Burngreave community. Although it has been established for business reasons, nonetheless it can still have some leniency towards community groups, particularly those who are in worst conditions.

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The content on this page was added to the website by Lisa Swift on 2008-04-11 17:50:25.
The content of the page was last modified by Rohan Francis on 2008-04-11 22:50:17.

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