Investing in the Vestry
The Vestry Hall is an important landmark
for Burngreave and one of the most visible signs of neglect
in our area. New Deal have now committed to spending money
on it and efforts are already being made to get match funding.
They hope it will be back in use by September 2005.
The Vestry Hall is built on land owned by the
Duke of Norfolk and leased to the Council, who built the Vestry
Hall in 1864 (see History
of Ellesmere Green for more history). It was
closed in 1996 because the Council were unable to prevent
the decay of the building, claiming lack of funds. Despite
years of effort from the Vestry Hall Trust it remains derelict.
What’s happening now
After years of speculation, things are now beginning
to happen. Plans are being developed by a new steering group
who are working with the Council as part of the ‘Advancing
Together’ programme. John Mellor is representing the
Vestry Hall Trust, and told the Messenger:
“I’m glad something
is finally beginning to happen. The Vestry Hall Trust has
battled for years to get the building back into use. Whatever
happens, it’s got to be sustainable, that’s one
of the reasons why we are aiming to make it into a learning
John Clark, BNDfC Chief Executive, estimated
the total cost of refurbishment would be between £2.5
and £3 million.
What are the plans?
Nothing is set in stone yet and there are lots
of ideas, like suggestions for an arts centre linked to an
open market, theatre or social space. John Clark told the
Messenger it was important that agreement was reached
quickly about what will be in the Vestry so that work can
“We’ve heard lots of
ideas but they can’t all go in the Vestry Hall, we need
to make sure everyone feels there’s something for them.
The key thing about the Vestry Hall as a community learning
centre is it’s not about classrooms – it’s
about bringing people together to learn from each other. The
social aspect is as important as any learning.”
Three levels have been discussed – on
the top floor traditional learning and IT provision, on the
ground floor an open area for multipurpose use and social
events with a small café area, and in the basement
graphic design facilities, mini arts space and studios and
photographic dark rooms.
If you have ideas about what should
be in the Vestry Hall contact Joice Richards or Jon Cowley
at New Deal on 292 2906.