Handbridge parish community centre plan 2016

RSS

undefinedA project to build a community centre for Handbridge, an area of Chester just across the River Dee from the city centre, is gathering pace driven by parishioners from St Mary Without-the-Walls.

The parish’s current hall was built in the 1960s, costing less than £20,000. Its expected lifespan was around 20 years – so the parish has certainly had its money’s worth.

A straightforward replacement of the basic parish hall could be easily achieved, but the parish has decided to go for something much more ambitious.

A big £1.5 million parish centre is planned, and it will have lots of facilities for use by the whole community of Handbridge.

Rector the Revd Paul Dawson said: “This new centre will provide the community facilities that Handbridge will really benefit from. The project will mean a lot to the local area, from the number of groups who can benefit from it, to things like the café, which will give people somewhere to meet with friends.

“Social isolation is a problem in Handbridge. We really hope that having a centre like this will help. As long as we get the funding in time we want to build a new centre next year.”

A development committee, set up by the PCC in 2013, has been working on the concept of replacing the current single room hall with two good-sized meeting halls,  a medical consultation room for the adjacent surgery, and a café/ social area. An outdoor safe play area and improved access for people with disabilities are also part of the plans.

The overall aim is to provide a focal point for the community and help revitalise the life of the area and the work of the church.

The parish  currently has just over £800,000 committed to the new centre.  If it can raise another £300,000 that will the development committee to approach grant-making bodies which will fund projects once they reach 75% of their target costs. The planning process has been complex due to the nature of the site and being in a conservation area. It is hoped building work can commence in May 2017 with completion and opening by November.

PIctured ABOVE – Vicar Paul Dawson and parishioners with their plans for the big new centre at Handbridge. Photograph by Kirsty Thompson, reproduced by kind permission of Cheshire Life. The picture and original report about this exciting parish project appeared in the magazine’s March issue as part of a ‘Town life’ feature