1 Little Lane

The BNHS has over the years become inured to Ill-informed sniping from certain sections of the community, so to put the record straight here is the background: it was only after much soul-searching that the Society reluctantly came to the conclusion that we had no choice but to sell 1 Little Lane and use the proceeds to buy a more modern, and more habitable, house elsewhere in the village. It was estimated that to bring the property up to a decent 21st Century standard would cost upwards of £200,000, money that could and will be better spent elsewhere. Our shareholders and tenants were supportive of this decision.

The problems with this Grade II listed building start with its inaccessibility – everything has to be manhandled up the alleyway and through a narrow gateway. The Conservation Officer, whose word is law, may be sympathetic to our problems but his priority is the preservation of the building, not the needs of our tenants. For instance it has an EPC rating of E whereas the legal minimum will soon be C – any dispensation on the grounds that it’s listed will probably not last for ever and meanwhile condemns tenants to fuel poverty at a time when all household budgets are being mercilessly squeezed, first by Covid now by the Cost of Living crisis – the reason we have held rents at the same level for the last three years.

John Wallace recognised the difficulty with maintaining the properties he bequeathed to the BHNS which is why he included a non-binding clause in his will. We like to think he would have been supportive of our decision. The BNHS has sold properties before, starting in Norah Clogstoun’s time, but latterly only where the sale could finance major improvements elsewhere. The BNHS has always tried to balance preserving the fabric of our community with providing decent, affordable homes for local people; now perhaps the former task can be passed to others with deeper pockets while we continue to strive to meet the rising expectations of our tenants.

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