Story by Fran Belbin | Photo by James Woollen
The future of one of Burngreave’s most prominent buildings remains uncertain as Sheffield City Council consider a business plan put forward by the Friends of Burngreave Vestry Hall. The Vestry Hall was renovated in 2006-07 as part of the Burngreave New Deal for Communities regeneration programme and turned into a community resource. The main hall is one of few large spaces available for community use in Burngreave and the building is also home to several local organisations and projects, such as Somali education group IT-CSS and Springboard Social Cafe. However, the council has failed to generate enough income from the building to cover its costs. Under the pressure of ongoing austerity measures, they proposed to lease the entire building to Sheffield Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) for their sole use. As John Mellor, Chair of the Friends of Burngreave Vestry Hall, said:
“The refurbishment was for the interests of the community but if the Council see it as only a commercial proposition the community won’t have access anymore.”
Now the Friends group have developed a business plan that would retain its community ethos and heritage. Their vision is to work with local and citywide partners to deliver a range of services, making the building a ‘Centre for All Nations’. Councillor Jackie Drayton told us:
“The Vestry Hall is at the heart of the local community. We want to see lots of activities happening in the building, as well as providing a space that local people can rent. We support the CAB’s work and look forward to working with them to deliver to the people of
Burngreave, but continue to keep our Vestry Hall open to all our community.”
The decision on the building’s future rests with the Council, but the Friends are on the lookout for local people to help with the group and bring forward ideas. To get involved contact Margaret Williams on 07930 875 153.