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Old Ambulance Station

A social enterprise in an
old Ambulance station

One of Richard’s first personal projects in this chapter of his career, was converting the Old Ambulance Station building in Bexhill-on-Sea that once housed weary emergency workers between call outs. Today it offers local artists some of the most affordable rented workshops in East Sussex.

Eight studios and a communal kitchen have been re-designed to facilitate experimentation, collaboration and offer a space for gallery showings for the region’s creative arts community. In fostering their potential to become world class artists and artisans through community engagement and support, Richard is hoping to give a new lease of life to the local creative community.

Prompted by an 18-month search by renowned blacksmith Ben Wood for a local place to craft, the building was purchased by Richard, who saw the improvement brought to local communities through investment in creative and social spaces.

With a newly installed blacksmith’s forge in the heart of the Old Ambulance Station, Ben is now looking forward to working alongside other local professionals.

Maximising natural light and kitted-out with access to power, the building is easily accessible by public transport or bike with plenty of onsite parking. Paramedics and ambulance staff have been provided with a much-needed rest room complete with fresh coffee and Netflix.

Richard says, “This truly is an exciting and fantastic opportunity for local artists. We want to offer a safe and secure space, somewhere where they can put down roots, do what they do best, without killing them with high costs. The opportunity to help our ambulance service however is a privilege”.

As part of the arrangement, artists using the space agree to do a minimum of three hours a month volunteering related to their field of work. Whether teaching a child who is struggling, creating an art project for the community, or helping mount pictures in a care home, the Old Ambulance Station is a space with its locals at its heart.

The Old Ambulance Station’s overall ambition is to be a self-financing social enterprise. The more successful the facility, the cheaper the rent is for the artists, and the more secure the rental income becomes. Also, the safer the income the stronger the yield, and the more valuable the investment proposition.

To make this work takes a lifetime of experience in property, but you must start with the purpose to do it.

The ripple effect of curating a community of world class artists in a small town like Bexhill on Sea is going to help the beautiful, but ordinary, town become extraordinary.

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