The Symington Building named in UK top six for investing in the community

Published Monday 30 June 2014

The Symington Building in Market Harborough, owned by Harborough District Council, is one of the six best community investment projects in the UK according to a national awards scheme.

Judges for the MJ Awards, the biggest and most competitive awards scheme for local government, commended the way in which a Grade II listed building was taken from a state of serious disrepair to become the community hub it is today while honouring and preserving its heritage.

The former Victorian corset factory (pictured) in Adam and Eve Street, which opened in April this year, accommodates the Harborough District Council offices, County Council and adult learning services, Job Centre Plus, the Citizens Advice Bureau, the Registrar and an integrated library and museum along with shops and businesses.  

Blake Pain, Leader of Harborough District Council, said: “It’s fantastic for The Symington Building to get this national recognition against stiff opposition from across the country.  It’s thanks to the hard work and vision of councillors, officers and our partners – particularly the County Council - and The Market Harborough and The Bowdens Charity, who helped fund the fantastic redevelopment of the museum and library.  We have a great facility here in the district.  I hope everyone makes the most of it.  If you’ve yet to pop in then come and see it for yourself.”

Alongside Harborough District Council, authorities recognised for their community investment work included Cheshire East Council, Cheshire West and Cheshire Council, Newcastle City Council, Somerset County Council and Vale of Glamorgan Council.  Judges for the MJ awards included Mike Burton, the Editorial Director of the MJ magazine, a publication for the local government sector; Tim Byles, the Chief Executive of Cornerstone, a social investment company; and Amy Leonard, Chief Executive of the Transformation Trust, an education charity for young people. 

More information

The award

The MJ Awards are the biggest and most competitive awards in local government. They are designed to recognise and inspire excellence in the public sector. The MJ Community Investor Award seeks to recognize innovation in local government; particularly, where local authorities have identified new ways to unlock the latent value in their assets, and in doing so, have been able to support otherwise unaffordable development and social infrastructure in their communities.

Partnership funding for The Symington Building

Harborough District Council brought together a range of capital resources to make the community hub a reality. These included:

  • £1.8 million from Leicestershire County Council;
  • £380,000 from The Market Harborough and The Bowdens Charity to enhance the museum facility;
  • £15,000 from Arts Council England to support an arts strategy for the redeveloped building.

In addition, Harborough District Council agreed a service sharing agreement with Charnwood District Council for the provision of customer services.

The redevelopment is part of a wider transformation programme that is on track to save nearly £0.9 million a year from 2016/17.