Not-for-profit dementia specialists Belong worked with private developer Prime UK to transform the site into the Belong Heritage Gallery and wider care village.
The public building tells the story of the site’s rich and varied history through a range of facilities. These include a recreation of the Old Pomona Inn, a tea room showcasing Sammy Bell’s pottery, a hair salon, library, craft space and reminiscence room. The facility aims to become a dementia centre of excellence, supporting wellbeing and providing training in heritage and dementia support.
An ambitious and varied activity programme accompanied the restoration. Volunteers collected people’s memories and creative writing workshops with a local theatre turned these into a live performance. Schools took part in a design competition, students joined hard hat tours and memory boxes were designed for older people’s groups.
In addition to providing a financially viable future for the iconic 17th-century building the development created jobs, improved the environment and contributed to the town centre’s regeneration.
Belong Chief Executive, Tracey Stakes, said: "We were delighted to be able to renovate the building as part of our project and feel confident that the Belong Heritage Gallery will prove a real asset to the town as well as the village for many years to come."