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After two discussions with owner of the Mint House in Pevensey, entrepreneur Jason Rolf, about progress with the project and whether he still believes that the purchase makes long-term financial sense, we pick up the story at the start a new year and new decade, with the third of his exclusive interviews with the Pevensey Bay Journal

In an interview (18 September 2018) entrepreneur, Jason Rolf, talked to the Pevensey Bay Journal about the 24 hours that led up to his decision to buy the site, “I’d spotted The Old Mint House earlier in the year when it came to auction previously but I was busy with another project so when it came up again I decided to investigate further.

He added, “I look at a lot of prospective commercial properties and they have to make long-term financial sense. At the Old Mint House there were clearly a lot of issues that would need attention and it was going to be difficult to evaluate quickly especially with the auction only a few weeks away. On top of that the years it had remained vacant meant it was being slowly engulfed by vegetation, some of which had made its way inside the property.

“After downloading the full legal pack and reading through every document I spent evenings and weekends contacting anyone who might offer up some helpful advice and information. Much like the viewing, this brought good and bad news but with just one day till the auction I had worked out it was just about viable to take on and 24 hours later I was the new owner”.

The Journal picks up the story with the next chapter. We are now in a new year and new decade, where are we now with the Mint House project?


PEVENSEY BAY JOURNAL: Jason, you bought the Mint House in July 2018 at auction and we interviewed you about your inspirational plans for the site. Since then we have talked a number of times and interviewed you about varous stages on this long journey to success with your plans, Do you want to say something about the status of the plans as we enter a new year?

JASON ROLF: Lots going on and I will keep you updated as things happen!

JOURNAL: Can we talk first about the main building, last time we talked you had a tentative plan that the Mint House may become accessible as a community project of some description. We noted your latest discoveries (September 2019). You told us, “a full archaeological survey, archaeological drawings, a 3D radar scan of the complete building have been completed”. You added with excitement, “a lot of interesting history has been uncovered and it appears that the central building was possibly built as a Guildhall around 1480 with a detached service block, one of the few remaining examples in the UK. There is also evidence of some medieval structures which may have been taken from Pevensey Castle main hall in the late 15th and early 16th centuries”.

What we noted was the quality of research that is going into the project. You have employed the services of Deborah Gardner as a historic building consultant to develop a business plan for the nineteenth century outbuildings at the back of the site and she has begun work on a plan for the historic Mint House. At the time, we looked at the application to Wealden Council put forward for the project by Architect, Deborah Gardner,. Her heritage and design statement extended to 30 pages. Our view with the application was that we were seeing the most informed documentation for any major project in the locality in the last ten years. The understanding of the historical, social and economic context was impeccable.

We pointed out that Deborah Gardner had worked as Contracts Administrator on behalf of English Heritage and numerous monuments within East Sussex & Kent..

All these plans must be taking considerable time, effort, energy and experience, and have to be informed by what is found on the site, no doubt. The obvious opening question is to ask where you are with the plans and what is the latest information about the structure of the Mint House building?

JASON: There isn’t any fresh news regarding the main building I’m afraid, the whole roof and main chimney require full repair/rebuild and I have secured all the expertise required including the structural engineer, historic contractors, 3D scans and historic surveys but I’m stuck with planning, hopefully some progress on that side soon.

JOURNAL: So can work be done on the parts of the site that are not the main building?

JASON: There has been a lot of work carried out on areas which don’t require consent however, including the beautiful central courtyard which has been brought back to life through the tireless work of a local gardener.

JOURNAL: What is the status of the rear buildings?

JASON: The rear buildings are also in much better condition having been carefully repainted, repaired and cleaned by the property manager who is my older sister.

JOURNAL: Are you beginning to get interest from people that may want to know more about the possibilities of letting business units on the site at some projected date in the future? There has been talk of the possibility of art studios, small creative digital start-ups in the plans for the outbuldings at the back of the site. Are you geting people starting to express an interest? We guess that the main focus of interest is on the possible usage of the main building? Is there still any thinking about access for the community?

JASON: There has been a lot of interest from antiques dealers looking for premises which is great as this has been the main use of the buildings since 1910, if the majority of space gets taken by antiques businesses then we can call ourselves an Emporium! The plan is still to keep some of the front rooms for the promotion of the Pevensey community in one form or another, I’m very keen on that.

JOURNAL: Have you had any new thoughts about the site and possible small business development for 2020 and beyond, wnat is your 20/20 vision?

JASON: Finally, and very tentatively, I’m going to attempt to get the rear buildings zero carbon – existing lighting is being replaced with LEDs which will be powered by solar PV (subject to planning) – there will also be an EV charger which I would like to make accessible to local residents to encourage use of electric vehicles in the area.

JOURNAL: Thanks for talking to us.

As the Mint House project tentatively begins to take business shape in 2020 the Journal will be following the progress of the project month by month. We believe that the inspirational project begun by Jason Rolf has the potential to be transformative to historic Pevensey, for all the right reasons.

There are economic and social benefits that could become sustainable for generations, returning the historic village to a legacy that could have tangible links all the way back to 1480 when guildhalls in this country as town halls, for meetings and other purposes, were the social and economic hubs of communities.

The next chapter in the story of historic Pevensey could become remarkable for all the right reasons, extending news of the project beyond the offices of Wealden Council and the boundaries of East Sussex. In both vision and detailed planning there is an example here of twenty first century textbook innovation.

Will we one day be seeing the story of the restoration of the Mint House and new economic usage of the nineteenth century outbuildings at the back being featured with a national profile?

The project has the potential not just just to change the fortunes of the Mint House, but the fortunes of Pevensey.

As well as history magazines, architectural journals and flagship district council briefing magazines, might we be seeing the emergence of a sustainable financial business success that has a story to tell beyond the boundaries of East Sussex?

Will we one day be opening national newspapers like the Guardian, the Telegraph and most importantly perhaps, for the historic Mint House, the Financial Times, telling the success story as a series of feature spreads?

These are still early days with the project, but what is being achieved at the Mint House in Pevensey and what is being achieved by entrepreneur Jason Rolf is noteworthy

And yes. The project might one day be worthy of the attention of the national press. The headlines might write themselves. This would not be the first time that the village of Pevensey has played a part in the story of England.