Since 1998, there has been an ongoing saga in Petersfield of the lack of community facilities. Many local people felt the loss of youth facilities due to the transformation of the Howard Mallett Centre (HMC), first into a multi-media centre from 1998, then leased to a local group who proposed building offices and housing (on land which was given in perpetuity to local residents “for rest and recreation“!). Parents have fewer options to meet socially. Older people have fewer accessible options.
In 2014 the closure of the Sturton Street Methodist Church was announced, with the loss of its community space. A major campaign – Save Our Space – led by the users of the hall including many local residents – partnered with PACT and made a bid to buy the site, backed by the Social Investment of 428 local residents, over 400 households. It was an astonishing £700,000 bid to bring a community owned community centre to Petersfield, backed by many Methodists from the congregation and around Cambridge, but sadly not supported by their leadership. We were outbid – at the time of writing, by unknown buyers – and the price is one we could only have equalled with Methodist support (non-financial, mainly credibility and perhaps the reopening of the space). The support was not forthcoming.
Other projects have failed too – a hope shone briefly for a space on Harvest Way.
Now, we aim to use the energy of Save Our Space and PACT both to assert the planning obligations on the Sturton Street Chapel and Hall, should that be needed, and to aim for a purpose built community centre on the Mill Road Depot site when that comes up for development as the council closes it.
Ideas mooted by residents for such a community centre’s social activities & events include coffee mornings, a lunch club, a drop-in centre, bowls/carpet bowls, bingo, family socials. There could also be sessions for parents and toddlers, a drama club for children, exercise classes for different ages/interests; and activities such as roller skating, games nights and quizzes.
PACT believes that a community centre should provide a venue for:
- Youth Club including bringing the Guides and Scouts back to Petersfield by providing space for barbecues etc.;
- Meeting rooms;
- Coffee mornings and older people’s activities;
- A parent and toddler group, pre-natal classes, etc;
- Shows – small scale theatre and dance;
- Family Socials and parties;
- Drama, dance, music and art clubs for children;
- Games nights, dance classes, art classes…
It is particularly important to provide a place for young people to go; the lack of green space in Petersfield means open space is not there to fall back on.
PACT was founded in 1997 to fight the loss of the HMC. The need for a local community centre is still of paramount importance to the area. Please join us in our campaign to restore such a vital resource to our neighbourhood!