Forum House is to be bought by New Deal this month after they were approached by the Council with a plea to prevent it being sold on the open market for upwards of £750,000.
The New Deal Partnership Board were asked to consider purchase of the building for £450,000 in the hope that it could remain in community ownership. They were also asked to consider selling the building back to Black Community Forum (BCF) in several years time. This caused some unhappiness in their February board meeting. Community Rep Ronnie Lewin said: “I don’t know what BCF do, a lot of people from the black community do not feel represented by BCF, it feels like a closed shop which only benefits those in the clique.” While Community Rep Aisha Special K said: “There will be uproar in the community if we agree to sell the building back to BCF.”
The eventual decision was to buy the building out of the existing capital budget, which is set aside to pay for Sorby House and Spital Hill public realm. The Board did not want to give exclusive rights to BCF to buy the building back, but decided not to close the door on any community organisation wanting to take on management of the building beyond New Deal.
New Deal plan to continue renting Forum House to the Learning Campaign. It will also house other New Deal-funded projects: Burngreave Opportunities, Apprenticeships for All, Supporting Business, and Streetworx and they expect the building to generate a profit of £40,000 per year.