Petersfield, 24 July 2015
We’re very sorry to announce that our bid to buy the Sturton Street Chapel & Hall site has finally failed, and the Methodist Church has entered a binding agreement with another buyer. We don’t know who they are - hints are mixed.
We expect the sale to be final in around a month, at which point we’ll cancel all grants etc.
We would like to thank everyone who has helped us in our campaign, the many sponsors, potential grant givers and public supporters. It’s almost impossible to make a list but we’ll try on the website soon.
It has been tremendously rewarding to do this and an amazing demonstration of a community spirit locally. It has genuinely been a huge pleasure and we’ve learned so much. The tax reliefs and community investment approach that we used is a very powerful tool and we are keeping the Society we set up running for now to see if we can partner with the council or someone else to achieve some of the same aims. The unique combination of history, opportunity and need will not happen again though.
We cannot, of course, feel as positively about our experience with the Methodist Church, which was a huge contrast. We did map out a whole route through law and policy which would, they eventually admitted, allow them to collaborate with us, but they still declined (we never asked them to take a penny of loss from doing so). It’s appropriate that the alternative policies the Church could have used are rooted in the Methodist Sunday School tradition which the hall was built for. Instead we had to take part in sealed & confidential bidding, which, as a start-up charity, completely loaded the odds against us. We heard nothing but excuses throughout. In the end, we did what we could. We hope the successful buyer is community minded and will work with us all.
Thank you for your support.
Members of the “Save Our Space” Campaign
We have made an offer to acquire the Sturton Street Chapel and Hall as an amazing new community space but we were not the highest sealed bid for the Sturton St site and another offer has been accepted. The process was inherently almost impossible for us and we are currently appealing to the Methodist church to recognise that this is a truly exceptional case and they should consider sale to us as a charity within Methodist purposes. Please read our letter to Revd Chris White, superintendent minister of the Cambridge Circuit.
There are just two weeks left to save Sturton Street hall and chapel so it can be turned into a thriving community centre for the people of central Cambridge.
A plea and information for anyone who is interested in buying the Sturton Street Chapel and Hall site.
The full release as a PDF is here.
Save Sturton Hall Campaign Group devastated that site has gone up for sale
Fiona Neilson, founding member of the Save Our Space Campaign, expressed her disappointment that after months of campaigning to save the site for the community, Sturton Street Church and hall have today gone up for sale.
She said “Almost a year ago, when it was announced that the Sturton Street Church and hall were to be closed, a 12 year old girl started an online petition to save the site. That simple action by a local child has empowered and united nearly 400 residents in a common cause. In a remarkably short time, more than £600,000 has been pledged to our Community Share option so we can buy the site and create a thriving community centre. We made a bid in excess of the original asking price two weeks ago.
We have been overwhelmed by the strength of feeling expressed in this project; raising such a sum in a short space of time has been nothing short of incredible. We have been disappointed that the seller has not been open to working with us for a positive outcome and that today the site has gone on the open market.
Our plans for the site will transform the local community - it is well-known that despite being the one of the most densely populated and deprived areas in the city, Petersfield lacks green, open spaces, nursery provision and has no dedicated community facilities. Despite this huge effort by the community, we have been informed that the site will be sold to the 'best' bidder!
We have never asked to buy this site at a reduced price: we recognise the Methodist Church has funding needs of its own; but the open market sale arrangement is stacked against us. We believe the Methodist Church should be grasping this exceptional opportunity to make possible further good work in this community.”
Right now, it's all about asking other organizations not to bid on this site, which means mostly making sure people know what's going on and how amazingly successful we've been - would you display our poster?
You can download it from here (two copies, so you can print two as A5 if you like - give one to a friend!)
We have today made an offer to acquire the Sturton Street site.
The press release on this is here.
We have also launched a corporate sponsorship proposal and are approaching businesses with strong local ties to participate. Please feel free to recommend this to your employer! We are bound to miss some companies and it is always hard to know who best to approach.
We are still very much open to new and increased pledges. The formal share offer documentation is in final preparation and we will distribute it to all pledgers starting around 26th February.
TIme to cross our fingers and hope noone tries to take this opportunity away from us.