Community news and investigative journalism for Wapping E1W and Tower Hamlets London

Council plans for community hubs within walking distance of all residents

By on October 30, 2016 in Charities, News

New ‘community hubs’ – or community centres as they used to be called – are to benefit from a ’community benefit rent reduction’ policy as Tower Hamlets Council seeks to reinvigorate the voluntary sector.

The Council is proposing that every Borough resident should be within walking distance of a ‘community hub’ wherever they live. This comes as one result of the review into Community Buildings that took place this summer.

The new and fit-for-purpose hubs will be open to both new and existing voluntary and community organisations to hire space for activities and services.

Additionally the Council will consider a proposal to offer leases to existing users of community buildings who are to remain in their building.

kirsty-cornell

Kirsty Cornell, CEO of THCVS

“The voluntary and community sector in Tower Hamlets provides really valuable services to the people of Tower Hamlets, supporting statutory providers such as the council and the NHS in ways that can sometimes go unrecognised,” said Kirsty Cornell, chief executive of Tower Hamlets Council for Voluntary Service.

“The development of community hubs has the potential to be of real benefit to the voluntary sector, and we look forward to working with the council to develop and set up the hubs.”

80 per cent rent reducation for charities

In a further acknowledgement of the vital role third-sectory organisations have in our part of east London a new ‘community benefit rent reduction’ policy would mean eligible organisations who lease council-owned community buildings and are deemed to provide a community benefit may be offered a rent reduction of 80 per cent.

The move comes after a review of the Borough’s community buildings revealed many of the existing buildings to be underused and in poor condition. The review also found big differences in the types of property agreements with many put in place on an ad-hoc, inconsistent or informal basis.

The Council is promising that the new community hubs will offer a fair and balanced system with transparent rents and access for all. The hubs will be supported by a wide range of other buildings open for community use.

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets is set to approve the creation of community hubs as the part of his commitment to the voluntary and community sector in the borough.

The plans, which will be formally considered at next Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, propose creating community hubs across the borough, with the aim that there will be one within reasonable walking distance of any part of the borough.

The new and fit-for-purpose hubs will be open to new and existing voluntary and community organisations to hire space for activities and services. The hubs will offer spaces at a reasonable price to ensure they are affordable for local organisations.

John Biggs is also due to consider a proposal to offer leases to existing users of community buildings who are to remain in their building. This will provide community groups with more security than the existing arrangements while also ensuring there is transparency and consistency.

The Mayor is also set to establish a new ‘community benefit rent reduction’ policy which would mean eligible organisations who will lease council-owned community buildings and are deemed to provide a community benefit are offered a rent reduction of 80 per cent.

Many existing buildings underused and in poor condition

The new model comes after a review of the borough’s community buildings revealed many of the existing buildings to be underused and in poor condition. The review also found significant differences in the types of property agreements with many put in place on an ad-hoc, inconsistent or informal basis.

Biggs-Cable-Street-25“Our third sector and community partners work tirelessly to provide many invaluable services for our residents, “ said John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets.

“Currently there are too many groups forced to operate from sub-standard buildings. The new community hubs will mean the council can offer modern and well equipped venues for our community organisations, ensuring that our hard working local groups continue to play a crucial role right in the heart of our communities.

We recognise that many voluntary groups have very little income that is why the new hubs will be affordable and why we have introduced a community benefit rent reduction which means organisation who lease and meet the criteria can get up to 80 per cent off their rent.”

 

 

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