Original article can be found at:
http://www.hexham-courant.co.uk/news/vi ... &id=420546
06 October 2006
Vindolanda trustees draw up plans for vital conference centre
By: LOUISE BELL
PLANS have been entered for a £1.2million conference centre with accommodation at Vindolanda.
The Vindolanda Trust has applied to Tynedale Council for planning permission for a facility which would seat approximately 40 people, and have five bedrooms. The proposals would see the extension of a building used as a meeting room, with contained bedsit, on the museum driveway. The centre and associated facilities would be complemented by extending the upper level of the building to provide the study bedrooms.
Bosses at Vindolanda are hoping for a decision by the end of November. Trust director Patricia Birley said: If we are successful with our planning application, then we would go for funding for the project. If life was decent to us, I would be hoping that we could build the extension and actually be able to operate this in 2008. We would be looking at an autumn building period if all went well.
The conference centre, which would be open all year round, will enable the trust to increase its educational options.
Patricia said: The exciting thing about it is that with the conference meeting facility we can extend the range of courses we have here at Vindolanda and include courses for people who can not cope with the physical demands of archaeology but want to be involved. We would like to do more for those people than we do at the moment. This would facilitate that.
The project also aims to provide affordable accommodation to allow those with limited finances to join the student volunteers who come to help with excavations from April to September every year.
Patricia said: We get about 300 of them a year. Most of them are well off enough to stay in the local B&Bs but we do have a certain number of young people who do not come into that category. They are hard up. We find that each year, a number of people apply and they can not afford to stay in the area. It is too expensive for them. We have a number of students with big overdrafts.
However, she added: What we do not see this doing is affecting our existing local accommodation providers. This is providing accommodation for people who are not coming into the area at the moment. Our normal excavators have indicated to us that they will continue to use the facilities they are using. They are putting a tremendous financial return into the area. We are well aware of the value of that contribution. We want to keep that quite vibrant and expand it if we possibly can.
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