Beloved community hall in Blackfen to close with 'no consultation', according to angry parents

Parents from The Good Shepherd Playgroup in Blackfen.

Parents from The Good Shepherd Playgroup in Blackfen.

First published in News
Last updated
News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , deputy news editor

A beloved community hall in Blackfen is going to close after "no consultation", according to angry parents.

The Good Shepherd Playgroup is held at the Good Shepherd Church building in Blackfen Road.

Owner Jo Havering was recently forced to write to parents confirming it will shut in July.

The Holy Redeemer Church Lamorbey in Days Lane, which owns the hall, carried out a feasibility study of its assets last year and it's believed an offer has been made to buy the hall.

The hall is used by the playgroup four days a week, and by a weekly zumba class, children's ballet classes, a Slimming World group, a WI club and for birthday and christening celebrations.

Mrs Havering described the impending closure of the hall as "devastating" and "very emotional".

Her letter to parents said: "The sale of the hall creates considerable uncertainty for all those providing and accessing services.

"The nature of my business depends on the ability to forward plan for the following academic year; clearly this is not possible in the current situation."

Angry mum Alice Brand, 38, of Gordon Road, Blackfen told News Shopper: "This is Jo's livelihood and a church is taking that away.

"There has been no consultation.

"This is a fantastic community facility and there is not another hall we could take our children to within walking distance."

Mrs Havering told News Shopper she had let her parents know "as soon as possible" and was looking for a new hall but had not yet been successful in her search.

Parents said the church should have approached the groups using the hall to see if they could purchase the site.

A planning application for six flats was approved on July 17 last year for the site of a current bungalow at 148 Blackfen Road which is next door to the hall.

The site is also believed to be owned by the Holy Redeemer Church.

The church declined to comment.

Comments (3)

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6:06pm Wed 26 Mar 14

Cuddeford Family says...

The Good Shepherd Playgroup has been open for over 40 years
As a parent of three children who also attended the playgroup & as a member of staff for the last 13 years I will always have fond memories

To say that the closure in July is a very upsetting prospect...is an understatement!
I am deeply saddened that we have been put into this position whereby we are unable to have the stability we need to continue to care & look after children in our community

Our last day will be very sad, I will miss the children so much

'Auntie Mandy' Cuddeford
The Good Shepherd Playgroup has been open for over 40 years As a parent of three children who also attended the playgroup & as a member of staff for the last 13 years I will always have fond memories To say that the closure in July is a very upsetting prospect...is an understatement! I am deeply saddened that we have been put into this position whereby we are unable to have the stability we need to continue to care & look after children in our community Our last day will be very sad, I will miss the children so much 'Auntie Mandy' Cuddeford Cuddeford Family
  • Score: 30

8:18pm Sun 30 Mar 14

James Lyons says...

A hall that is used by the community for the community.

The loss of the hall will affect everyone in Blackfen it will mean:
- preschool has to close down, five people made redundant.
- Women's Institute, leaving the elderly with nowhere to meet and now isolated.
- Businesses under threat due to lack of halls to rent - ballet school, Zumba class, slimming world.
- where will we vote??
A hall that is used by the community for the community. The loss of the hall will affect everyone in Blackfen it will mean: - preschool has to close down, five people made redundant. - Women's Institute, leaving the elderly with nowhere to meet and now isolated. - Businesses under threat due to lack of halls to rent - ballet school, Zumba class, slimming world. - where will we vote?? James Lyons
  • Score: 0

12:58pm Mon 31 Mar 14

PDuggan says...

The Good Shepherd was always meant to be a community hall as well as a church and this was incorporated into its original building design. It’s a terrible shame that the need for cash has outweighed the benefit it brings to people in the area.

There is still a strong community feeling in Blackfen but the disappearance of this important space will do nothing to encourage that. There is a lack of community space in Blackfen and groups will have difficulty finding an alternative venue. We do not want businesses driven away from the district as this inevitably has knock-on effects, eg less people using the local shops.
The Good Shepherd was always meant to be a community hall as well as a church and this was incorporated into its original building design. It’s a terrible shame that the need for cash has outweighed the benefit it brings to people in the area. There is still a strong community feeling in Blackfen but the disappearance of this important space will do nothing to encourage that. There is a lack of community space in Blackfen and groups will have difficulty finding an alternative venue. We do not want businesses driven away from the district as this inevitably has knock-on effects, eg less people using the local shops. PDuggan
  • Score: 0

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