THE long-awaited completion of the Greenham Control Tower project could finally be in sight, after funding to cover the remaining work was approved this week.
Greenham Parish Council’s bid for a £95,000 loan from the Government’s Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) was given the green light on Monday.
The news means the tendering process for the final refurbishment works can now begin.
The chairman of the council’s control tower committee, Jon Gage, said: “The successful loan application is another major step forward in fulfilling the commitment of Greenham Parish Council of opening this fantastic building to the public just as soon as we can – timescales now depend on appointing the final building contractor.”
The loan will be paid back over the next 17 years (£6,700 a year) and will take the total spend on the project to £895,229. However, the cost of the repayments will not be passed on to residents, the council has said.
When open, the control tower will provide public facilities of a café, toilets and a viewing gallery overlooking Greenham Common (pictured).
An interpretation area, offering exhibitions that reflect the history and natural history of the common, will be installed later.
The Grade II-listed tower, overlooking the common, was bought by the parish council in 2014, with the intention of bringing the then-dilapidated building back into public use.
However, the redevelopment of the iconic control tower has taken considerably longer than expected, with the council initially aiming to have the site open to the public last spring.
A series of costly errors saw project fees (£116,919 of which is at the Greenham taxpayers’ expense) rise to more than £800,000, resulting in the project eventually grinding to a halt last year.
The completion date has also been pushed back a number of times.
It is now understood the project will not be completed until early 2018.
Work still to be carried out includes improving access to the building, the fit-out of the café and toilets, flooring throughout the building and landscaping the area around the tower.
Councillor Meg Thomas, who has been heavily involved in the renovation project, said: “The tower was in a state of complete disrepair when we bought it, after standing empty for 20 years.
“It’s been a long and challenging project, but now we are greatly looking forward to opening up this classic building for the benefit of the local community and beyond.”
Project manager Place Partnerships has been appointed to oversee the completion of the remaining construction work, which, once the tender process is complete, is expected to take approximately 16 weeks.
An independent charitable organisation, Greenham Control Tower Ltd, is being formed to manage the building.
The new Greenham Control Tower Ltd will be a company limited by guarantee with volunteer trustees.