Today I attended a meeting at MK Council to talk about the future of the Great Holm Community Centre.
MK Council had placed this property into their capital asset transfer programme. This attracted no expressions of interest, save from Loughton Parish Council’s possible interest.
The premises were built in the late 1980s. They were leased by MK Council to Great Holm Community Centre Limited (“GHCCL”) which is a registered charity and has three Directors/Trustees. It appears this lease expired in 2007 and nothing has been done since. The company does not appear to be paying any rent and in fact MK Council is supporting the company with grants. In 2012 the grant support was £11,750. There is a significant possibility that this grant may be withdrawn at some stage in the future.
Recently the sign outside needed to be replaced so we replaced the sign as you can see in the photo on the left. Although Loughton Parish Council is mentioned on the sign we do not at present have any interest or right in the premises.
We are keen however to secure the premises for future use and it would be a great shame if the grant was withdrawn and the premises had to close as a result.
At the meeting today we explored all the options that might exist for the property. I am concerned that the premises seem rather run down and could do with an overhaul to bring them up to a good standard. I imagine this building was built by the estate developer as part of their s.106 obligations. The building is functional but not at all attractive. I do not think it is a fitting public space for the area. However it may be that this is all that resources allow and we have to work with what we have.
I am going to speak to Jonathan Robinson at MK Council who deals in the s.106 agreements to see if he has any way of producing the necessary funds via this method to revitalise and overhaul the building. I enquired whether a commuted sum might be available to discharge the future grant liability – I had in mind perhaps £50k. Unfortunately there is no budget in the capital transfer process so I will have to make enquiries of the Communities Facilities Unit to see if there is any possibility of a grant bid there.
The premises generated letting income of about £9.5k last year and had salary outgoings of £10.5k on the caretaker and cleaning. The grant of £11.75k seems to have been spent on some internal refurbishments.
I think it would be useful to perhaps get expert advice from a surveyor and/or architect on the condition of the property and to make a plan for what should be done with it.
We will have to also maintain a dialogue with the trustees of GHCCL and work together to make sure this important public asset of Great Holm is preserved and enhanced.