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“To say it is a disappointment is an understatement”

Times Echo and Life / All News / “To say it is a disappointment is an understatement”
19 days, 9 hours agoNo Comments.
16 JUN

“To say it is a disappointment is an understatement”

By timesecholife on in All News, Community News

A community group has stated that it is disappointed that their offer to purchase a former chapel in the Moorlands has been turned down. Last year, the Staffordshire Moorlands Methodist Circuit announced that it was set to put the former Kingsley Holt Chapel building up for sale.

A community group has stated that it is disappointed that their offer to purchase a former chapel in the Moorlands has been turned down.

Last year, the Staffordshire Moorlands Methodist Circuit announced that it was set to put the former Kingsley Holt Chapel building up for sale.

Following this announcement, the Kingsley Holt Centre group – which is made up of many members of the community – made a successful bid to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council for the building to be registered as an Asset of Community Value.

The group then went on to run a successful share initiative recently which saw them raise £150,000 towards the project of saving the chapel for community use.

However, the group has now been informed that their offer to purchase the building has been turned down by the Methodist Circuit.

It is unknown how much and to who the circuit has agreed to sell the premises to.

A spokesman for the Kingsley Holt Centre group told the Times & Echo: “We are incredibly disappointed that our offer to purchase the former Methodist Chapel building in Kingsley Holt has been rejected.

Disappointed in the Methodist Church, disappointed in the Localism Act legislation, disappointed that someone would wish to buy it whilst maybe knowing how much community ownership of this building means to our village and mystified by the charity regulation we are told has driven this outcome.

The Kingsley Holt Centre project has been set up by residents of Kingsley Holt to purchase and run the former Chapel as a community hub, shop and café and to sow all profits back into the local community.

We are told that community is important in our society and that we should protect and value community space. We are told that it is vital for all communities to have space and the opportunity to meet up, interact and support everyone.

We have proved beyond doubt that this building and its use has been doing just that for many years. We have proved that it can continue to do this and with the achievement of Asset of Community Value listing by SMDC we have proved that it’s not just us that believe this.

The overwhelming and heart-warming level of support we have received from people wanting to invest in, donate to or volunteer with our project also demonstrates a strong commitment too and belief in this project and community.”

The spokesman continued: “However, despite all of this, despite raising enough money to offer over the asking price and above our own valuation, we have been unable to secure the continued community use of this building.

To say it is a disappointment is an understatement, it is a disgrace that after all this work, all the valued support from our community and beyond, all the good words of legislation, we still find ourselves locked out of what is and has been a valuable and important community asset for many years.

Locked out by what? Lack of interest, lack of belief, it isn’t lack of support from our community, so why has it been sold for best price with no apparent consideration for its continued community use?

A banner on the front of the Methodist Church in Cheadle reads “This church is still serving the community in the name of Jesus Christ” – so what happened when our community asked for help to keep the old Methodist Chapel buildings in our village available to all, to maintain its heritage, to allow it to continue to serve its community?

We were repeatedly told by the Methodist Church that they were not opposed to community use, but it would only be sold for best price.

The Methodist Church state their reasons for this policy is that the funds will further their mission.

How does it further their mission to alienate the communities that have supported them for years?

It remains unclear as to who will now own this building and what their plans for it might be, will their plans be 100 per cent community use? In which case its possible we can welcome them, support them and work with them.”

The spokesman added: “However, any other options, any change of use, any move away from 100 per cent community use and we are ready to oppose, to fight that change and fight to get this building back into the regular community use, back as it had been before we were locked out.

It is still listed as an asset of community value, we have shown it has been and could continue to be successful as a community building.

The building is not identified in the Staffordshire Local Plan as a potential development site. Policy C1 of the plan titled Creating Sustainable Communities states: – Support proposals which protect, retain or enhance existing community facilities and Resist proposals involving the loss of community facilities.

This is exactly what we are trying to do, and we will be asking Staffordshire Moorlands to ensure that Policy C1 is enforced should any application for change of use be submitted.

To support our project please visit our website www.kingsleyholtcentre.co.uk, follow our social media pages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Email us on info@kingsleyholtcentre.co.uk or call/text 07443 397522.”

The Times & Echo has contacted the Staffordshire Moorlands Methodist Circuit for a response to this article but had not, at the time of print, received any reply.

However, when we last contacted the circuit about the sale of the Kingsley Holt Chapel, a spokesman had said then: “We will not be making further comments about the sale, as clearly details of such matters will be confidential and commercially sensitive.”

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