An opinion piece from Preserving Womersley, which is solely responsible for its content.
After a drizzle of activity at the Klein Studio in the latter part of 2018, unlike the rain in winter, progress has dried up, even if the building hasn't. For all the work, it appears that water damage continues through the much simpler path of sneaking in through open doors and rotting out ineffective hardboard barriers over broken windows. Clearly the first objective of Mr Miller's professed work program remains unmet: to secure the building and halt the decline.
A second Times article from Gabriella Bennett last week, which you can read here,
was the first to contain a time frame (of ten years) in which the deteriorating Studio might pass from emergency to intensive care and thereafter - well, the great thereafter. That stark proposition introduced us to Susan Hallsworth, a Klein Studio devotee with experience in property recuperation and a focus on modernism.
Mr Miller, however, seems to still believe in Santa, since this is the only conceivable way his wish of "being in by Christmas" is likely to be met. Only the Scottish Borders Council (SBC) appear satisfied with that promise.
PW received an email follow-up from long-time Studio supporter and PW contributor, Colin McLean, as shocked as we were by Susan's opinion and the Council's reluctance to act in the face of the obvious.
We have talked to both of them and it is our combined belief that a more direct approach to the risks facing the Studio is warranted.
To that end, we are beginning to explore with them what is needed to make it difficult for the SBC to avoid the conclusion that action is necessary to fulfill their public responsibility for important listed architectural heritage.
For example, the SBC can use its legal power in the form of a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to intervene in the ownership chain in favour of the building. We’re looking at alternatives and ways to support a conclusion such as this. There is precedent.
This is a near impossible task but nonetheless simpler than watching the building crumble under the weight of its current ownership.
We will begin immediately to research this and other possibilities, to assemble as far as is possible the technical, legal and cultural advice that will allow us to build a convincing strategy to attract potential buyers. It’s to be hoped (but not expected) that Mr Miller might even come to see this as helpful.
There can be no doubt that the motivation for this cannot be commercial since this is clearly not a commercially viable proposition - even for Mr Miller. But fully researched, realistically costed and with a large dose of wishful thinking, the mountain we seek to climb might be but a molehill to the right person or group - one that sees cultural value beyond the commercial proposition.
I am sure we will need frequent expressions of support and encouragement, so will ask for your direct engagement when the time comes. We will update you as we go along.