The total cost of the project we expect to be £3.7 million. The reason for the cost is that, while the building is both beautiful and architecturally significant, working on what was originally five Georgian buildings, all listed, is not straightforward. We need to ensure we develop the building to a high standard, as well as cater for unforeseen issues as we open up areas that have not been altered over the past 250 years.
We’re also, of course, undertaking a significant amount of work - opening up almost two complete floors of the building, building a new entrance to the coffeehouse on level -1, installing a new lecture space and investing in our kitchen. These are structural changes we expect to last many decades, rather than a few interior design amendments, with the associated cost of undertaking such work.
3% of the budget is forecast to be spent on the ground floor, 38% on level -1, 37% on level -2, and 22% on level -3.
The project aims not only to provide enhanced internal spaces, but also to provide an increased revenue stream for the RSA over the long term so that the House can contribute to fulfilling our charitable mission. These revenues come from an improved catering offer and an increase in kitchen capacity. If we raise £400,000 from fundraising and Trusts and Foundations (which is our aim), we will have a positive return on our outlay within 10 years.
This builds on the renovations that we undertook in 2012. They have been extremely successful, and have helped the organisation build up reserves over time. We will be using reserves, along with our fundraising revenue and a contribution from our external caterers to pay for the project.
The initial impetus for the project came from one of our regular Fellowship surveys, which highlighted that many Fellows felt unhappy with the spaces in the house. A survey specifically about the house was then undertaken and the results taken to the Trustee Board for discussion. The Trustees agreed that possible options should be investigated and from that it was agreed that a major project should be undertaken.
The project is being overseen by a sub-committee of the Trustee Board, which includes the Chair, Deputy Chair, Treasurer and Chair of the Fellowship Council. We use external experts where appropriate, including our Royal Designers for Industry, who are providing invaluable advice.
The whole Trustee Board has been closely involved in the project, with a meeting of the Trustee Board specially convened to study the designs, finances and process in depth before giving the final go ahead.