A petition to preserve Exeter St. Church Hall for community use.

St Luke's Church Hall: Exeter Street

A meeting was held on Wednesday 30th November at the Chimney House to discuss the sale of St. Luke’s Church Hall and the impact it will have on the community. If you weren’t aware, the Church held a public meeting on 23rd September 2011 to announce that they would be putting the Church Hall up for informal tender.   See details:

 

The meeting on Wednesday 30th November was to organise a petition. Over the next week, if you live in the Prestonville/ Port Hall area, someone will knock on your door and ask you to sign it.  In the meantime here are the details:

 

This petition is to support the preservation of St Luke’s Church Hall as a community building by upholding the current D1 Class use status in the event of its sale. Under the Use Classes Order 1987 (as amended) D1 includes: medical and health services, creche, day nursery, day centre, public halls, exhibition halls, art galleries, non-residential education and training centres, places of worship and church halls.
We the undersigned, ask Brighton and Hove City Council to support the local residents in preserving the community use of this Church Hall in the heart of our neighbourhood.

 

Other concerns that were raised at the meeting:

– We understand that the vicar of St. Luke’s Church, Martin Poole, would like the community use of the hall to continue but we are not clear about how this can be achieved.

– Even if the D1 status is upheld initially, a developer could purchase the building and immediately close it to the Community. Within a year, the Brownies, the Youth Club, the playgroup, Zumba, the after school art club and all the children’s parties and clubs that are currently held there will have found new homes. At this point the developer will build a case around these facts and present it to the planning department with an application for change of status to allow for the building of flats/ houses. Is the Church willing to put a covenant  into the deeds of the Church Hall to stop this from happening?

– We have heard that a percentage of any future profits that are made by the initial purchaser of the Hall, from it’s resale, will go to the Church. Given that the Hall spans an area equivalent of four typical Exeter Street houses and it is not a listed building, is there anything in place to stop the building from being demolished? If not, would the vicar consider including this in the covenant?

– Here’s some approximate sums: Purchase price £250 k + Demolition £30k + Build of four town houses £80k each (yes,that’s correct) = £630k. Sale of 4 new town houses, next to a Infant and Junior school and 10 min walk to station £1.8m + PROFIT £1,170,000.

– There are instances where a developer has created a community space within a residential development as a means of negotiation. If this was on the table next to an offer that would create larger profits, which would the Church choose?
We have a small window of opportunity to influence the future for the Church Hall. If you would like more information or would like to help, or even if you just have a good idea, please contact me at

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One Response to A petition to preserve Exeter St. Church Hall for community use.

  1. webmaster says:

    Oh dear that’s not good news about the church hall! The guide price seems rather low as the cost of a building plot in this area is more likely to be £100K for each area big enough for a terraced house. Maybe this is good news as it may reflect the projected difficulty of obtaining planning permission for residential use for any developer.

    There is probably only one option (apart from a super rich benefactor) if you want to safeguard it. You could create a cooperative of locals, using some of the members’ private wealth as collateral and get a mortgage in the name of the coop to buy the premises and run it as a not-for-profit business for the local and the wider Brighton community. Of course then you have to worry about the running cost and repairs. Running this without making a loss may be quite a challenge and this is probably why the church wants to offload it. I guess you could appeal to the good nature of the church and ask for first refusal in the event of a lot of interest from commercial buyers, or at least take it off the market for a period of time whilst you mobilise your people and get a plan worked out how to save it. The church surely would not want to look as if it is being hardnosed by depriving the Prestonville people of a much loved and used facility for financial gain if there is a chance of saving it for the community.

    Good luck,
    Lena

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