Community Buyout

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Radical change rarely comes from a place a calm, peace or contentment. Our ongoing fight for a community buyout comes, like that of many across Scotland, from a place of discontent, injustice and anger. Resonate, Alloa’s centre for creativity, community and innovation for the last ten years, was made homeless in 2021.


For the past decade our community had been based in Castle Street, in an unsuspecting warehouse tucked away in the bottom end of Alloa. The building could be cold and drafty, and was home to an alarming number of spiders, but such things couldn’t deter the people of Alloa. From day one we cleaned and we decorated, we knocked down and we rebuilt, we heated and heated until we could finally feel our fingers and we successfully made it our home. For ten years tens of thousands of people, local and from afar, crossed over our drafty threshold – the famous chime bells ringing  all day long – to connect, create and innovate, together.


We made no secret of the struggles we had with the owners of the warehouse. Across the ten years we occupied the building we fundraised tirelessly to pay our rent, in full and on time, every month. We supported the owners in delivering their own services from our site. We stepped up to support our community when they couldn’t. For a full decade we went above and beyond in an unrequited attempt to building a positive, working partnership. In spite of all this in early 2021 the one-sided nature of this relationship was no longer deniable as the owners, in what was community’s greatest time of need, terminated our tenancy.


The people of Alloa, however, are a hardy bunch. At the time, in the midst of a global pandemic and despite our own less-than-ideal circumstances, we were conducting a community survey relating to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The aim was to ascertain how we could best help people through this incredibly trying time. In the responses the community spoke passionately about the need for socialisation and support. Among the results was a recurring theme; the community wanted a building where they could feel connected, heal together, and flourish, just as they did at Resonate.


There was a great deal of anger in the responses we received, not only at the loss of Resonate but at the loss of so much of Alloa’s heritage. Across town local landmarks are being lost to developers at a time when community services are being cut and squeezed beyond any use. Our Past, our stories – they said – are being sold off, as if they never happened. The community wanted their story to be continued – and so the search for a new home continued.


We came across Ochil and Harvey House in 2021. Situated on land currently up for sale for development and at risk of being demolished, this historic site was abandoned by a local business in 2019. After carrying out some research on the the incredible global and local history of the site we set about building a reciprocal, positive partnership with the construction company who owned the site. Thankfully the company were keen to work with us, the community, and so we went back to our community to see what people thought.


The excitement was palpable immediately. Before even seeing the buildings the community jumped at the chance to save this incredible piece of heritage and make it their new home. Their resilience was to prove invaluable when, in July 2021, we were granted access to invite 100 people to view the buildings and were astounded by the incredible state of disrepair they had been allowed to fall into. From broken windows to collapsed ceilings, to holes in the floor where pipes had been stripped away, it was hard to believe such a beautiful piece of architecture had been neglected by it’s previous owners so badly.

Undeterred as always, the enthusiasm remained. Beautiful sweeping stair cases, magnificent windows looking out across the amazing grounds, multiple well sized rooms perfect for all kinds of community projects – we all saw the potential straight away and knew that we had to do all we could to save this incredible space.


Which brings us to the end of 2021, where we were knee deep in the process of trying to secure a license to occupy the building for community use. This would allow us to use the space for 12 months while we attempt to raise the funds required to buy it. At a quarter of a million pounds, not including the costs of the huge transformational work needing done, this will be no easy feat! But we know the people of Alloa. We know their strength, their courage and their resilience. We have no doubt in our minds that together, we will achieve this ambitious goal.


In early 2022 we were granted the license to occupy and then it was all hands on deck for the biggest push we have ever made. This isn’t just for Resonate Together or even for the community today – this is for the Alloa for generations to come. We have an opportunity  to make history, to build our community legacy for the Wee County and to secure a community owned asset for the future – it is going to be the biggest challenge, let’s get it done!