South Lakeland District Council has granted a 99-year lease for the running of The Coro in Ulverston, guaranteeing long-term stability and security for the much-loved and iconic venue.
Starting back in November 2015 the Council had agreed that an agreement be given, in principle, to the transfer, by way of short-term lease, the leasing of The Coro, and, by way of a management agreement, the management of the Ulverston markets to Ulverston Community Enterprises for a period of five years in the hope that a longer term agreement would be entered into on the back of a successful five years.
South Lakeland Council also supported Ulverston Community Enterprises in the form of a grant each year for a period of five years from the start of the agreement.
Discussions have been ongoing for the last three years to agree a longer-term lease, but progress was hampered because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In March 2021, the Cabinet approved a short term extension to the current lease for The Coro and management agreements for Ulverston Indoor and Street Markets with the Ulverston Coronation Hall CIO for up to a maximum of two years.
The Cabinet has now approved the 99 year lease with the Ulverston Coronation Hall Charitable Incorporated Organisation and established by Ulverston Community Enterprises to manage the hall.
Ulverston Community Enterprises has been running the hall and markets in Ulverston since 2016 with the council support as a Strategic Cultural Partner in its development as a cultural hub for the town and to work alongside key festivals and events.
Subject to completion of the lease agreement, members also approved a grant of £79,000 to investment in the public spaces within the building and £150,000 to support The Coro in becoming financially viable after the coronavirus pandemic.
South Lakeland Council has also committed £60,000 to pay for a new lift.
Councillor Robin Ashcroft, Portfolio Holder for Economy, Culture and Heritage, said: “This is an important step for Ulverston Community Enterprises and the Coronation Hall and a significant step forward for Ulverston.
“This is a great example of partnership working and I am delighted we have got to this stage and can provide long-term security and stability for the members of the organisation who have dedicated so much time, effort and expertise to securing the future of this vital community asset.”
Beth Kennedy, director of Ulverston Community Enterprises, said: “We’d made significant progress towards financial viability in the three and a half years Ulverston Community Enterprises managed The Coro before the pandemic struck. We’re delighted South Lakeland District Council recognise that progress and that we’ll have the chance to finish that journey.
“We know that local people have been anxious about the future of The Coro throughout the pandemic, but together this lease and grant give us both the short- and long-term security we need. Now we can get on with delivering on our objectives: developing and enriching the social and cultural life of Ulverston and the surrounding areas.
“This wouldn’t have been possible without the endorsement of Ulverston Town Council, Ulverston BID and our local MP Simon Fell and we’re deeply grateful for their support.”
Cabinet members were told that the proposed way forward was a “bespoke solution, utilising the strengths and support of the Ulverston community.”
Ulverston Community Enterprises will continue to run the markets on behalf of Council in the short term and commission a new feasibility/options appraisal for the markets to establish a sound business case for the markets before entering into negotiations for their long-term operation.