Fate of community centres to be decided

UNCERTAIN: Grange Community Centre in Hazel Grove, which looks set for 'disposal' by Preston Council
UNCERTAIN: Grange Community Centre in Hazel Grove, which looks set for 'disposal' by Preston Council
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The future of two Preston community centres looks set to be determined by Town Hall bosses.

Farringdon Park Community Centre in Ribbleton, which closed last year when Signposts shut down, could now be handed to a group of residents to run on a year’s probation.

But Grange Community Centre, in the same part of the city, looks set for “disposal” after interested groups failed to come forward to save it.

Coun Jonathan Saksena, who represents Ribbleton ward on Preston Council, described the fate of the Grange centre as “inevitable” and said: “There’s no community group in Grange, nobody has expressed an interest.

“There has been a major amount of antisocial behaviour and vandalism so I would think it’s the right solution.”

Members of Preston Council’s Cabinet are recommended to agree the community centre is “surplus to requirements” and to authorise the environment director to “agree the final terms and conditions of its disposal”.

Discussions had taken place with Grange Primary School around the possibility of opening a nursery at the community centre. However, a report to councillors said the school had stated Lancashire County Council would not take on the responsibilty of the centre.

Community Gateway has identified the land of the community centre to be suitable for development, if transferred to their ownership.

The report said the commercial value of the site was £132,000 less demolition costs, and the approximate cost for demolition, to get to brownfield status, would be £124,000.

The future of Farringdon Community Centre could be more certain, as cabinet members are recommended to approve an expression of interest from the Residents Association of Farringdon and Thirlmere (RAFT) to manage the centre for an initial period of 12 months.

Dot Halliwell, secretary of RAFT community group, said: “After the community centre closed in May last year we just kept our group together.

“We found we could submit an expression of interest to take over the centre, but the first one was rejected and we had to resubmit it, and that’s the position we’re in at the moment. We are hoping to get it open again so the community can take it over and make it a success.

“We are still a community group and we have been working hard to keep the community group together.”

She added: “We know it’s going to be hard work because there’s a lot to do and a lot of legalities to get through before it happens, but we are hoping to start community groups and put on things for the children like play groups. We already have an over-50s group and we hope to start a breakfast club and hire it out for functions and to other people who want to use it for seminars.

“It is hopeful, but I know we have a lot of work to do for it to get up and running.”

According to a report to the cabinet, the council will need to undertake essential repairs to the centre costing about £6,800, in addition to re-commissioning costs of £1,650.

A survey also showed further works, likely to be needed in the future, could cost about £95,000.