The Albion Trust
The Albion Trust was established in July 1994 to create the first affordable shared premises for the voluntary sector. This ideal was realised by 1998, when Norton Park opened, providing high quality, affordable office accommodation to 30 voluntary sector projects. Norton Park provides an opportunity for the 300 staff working in the building to share resources and experiences, leading to improvements in efficiency and effectiveness in the service they provide to their clients.
The Albion Trust applies the principal of sustainable development throughout all its activities, maximising the overall social, economic and environmental benefit to the wider community.
Norton Park has proved to be a massive success story within the voluntary sector and a waiting list of 30 tenants is maintained. Norton Park tenants average 25,000 visitors each year, many of whom are clients able to access the services of more than one support organisation with each visit.
The building and the objectives of The Albion Trust are also recognised in many commercial sectors. Norton Park is a 'Best Practice Building' for energy efficiency, following 18 months of energy monitoring by the Building Research Establishment. Several awards have been received and are summarised below: -
Sir Robert Grieve Award 1999: Norton Park
"This project carefully reconciles the need for efficiency and sustainability with sensitivity to the fabric of an historic building and without compromising the quality of the environment for its present day users."
Regeneration of Scotland Award 1999: Norton Park
"Lively and successful use of a building at the heart of the community, bringing new vitality and an economic boost to this inner city area."
Civic Trust Awards 2000– Mention: Norton Park
"In terms of sustainability, this conversion of a former school into offices for charities is excellent. It exemplifies sustainability principles not only environmentally and economically, but also socially and culturally. For instance, as well as considering factors such as low energy construction, contractors were evaluated on the basis of their employment and environmental policies."
Proposed Project Developments
The success of Norton Park as the first shared premises project for the voluntary sector provides the impetus to expand this area of growth and also to develop additional services for the voluntary sector. The Albion Trust, while relying on funding to develop a project, insist on each new project idea being financially sustainable without relying on continued grant funding.
The Albion Trust intends to introduce a Local Exchange Trading Scheme (LETS) into Norton Park. This scheme is a way for cash poor communities to access skills and labour from within, rather than draining resources through outside and expensive contractors. The biggest resource of any organisation is its staff and at Norton Park there is over 300 staff with extremely varied skills brought from their diverse backgrounds. These skills, as well as the potential benefits of increased sharing between groups, mean that there is an enormous pool of resources that, if properly managed, would free up money for the organisations to concentrate on their core activities: social welfare in the local community.
The following provides a brief overview of four of our projects currently under development: -
1. Lockhart Development – Edinburgh
Situated adjacent to Norton Park, this former church building was purchased in 1999 by The Albion Trust and has recently been subject to a feasibility study by our design team. The initial findings from the study have been encouraging and funding is being sought to advance the initial plans to Planning stage.
The new development will connect to Norton Park and will increase the net lettable area by half again, providing opportunity for more organisations to become tenants at this sought after resource centre. This development will incorporate a state of the art, fully accessible conference centre, capable of seating 120 people. Conference facilities have been identified as an area that voluntary sector organisations regularly are unable to obtain good value for money and fully accessible spaces and this project addresses these issues.
2. Paisley Development – Renfrewshire
This late 19th century former Parish Council building is ideally situated in Paisley to be a good central resource centre for the voluntary sector. In partnership with Renfrewshire Council for Voluntary Services, The Albion Trust plan to develop this building to provide more office accommodation for the voluntary sector in a fully accessible, centrally located building.
3. Scottish Charities Warehouse
This project proposes to source office furniture donations from commercial organisations, then restoring, repairing and recycling the furniture where necessary and offering the furniture for sale to the voluntary sector at low cost. We will provide voluntary sector organisations with access to low cost high quality second-hand refurbished furniture initially and eventually expanding to include other office equipment. This project has a significant impact on landfill as all furniture will either be reused or broken down to component parts and recycled.
The interest in this project has been immense and while it is still under development, we have been offered some outstanding quality furniture that we have been unable to turn down. The Lockhart building is proving to be very useful for storage of some 2000+ pieces of furniture. Word of mouth around the voluntary sector ensures that many pieces of furniture have already been sold although long-term demand has yet to be confirmed.
4. Facilities Management
It is recognised that while many organisations would like to be part of a building like Norton Park, many own and occupy their own premises often with sister organisations leasing space from them. The management of premises can be time consuming and we would like to share our expertise in facilities management with these organisations allowing them to focus on their core service.
Currently, The Albion Trust is piloting this idea by providing a variety of services to three separate buildings occupied by voluntary sector organisations. The services we are providing ranges from janitorial support on an ad-hoc basis to full building management and factoring. The organisations utilizing these services have indicated that they will continue to use this method of property management and are satisfied with the quality and level of service we provide.
For further information, contact:
The Albion Trust,
57 Albion Road,
Edinburgh EH7 5QY
Tel: 0131 - 475 - 2400
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