Mapperley campaign group hopes to save community centre from threat of development

Haywood Road Community Centre, Mapperley.

A Mapperley community group is hoping to convince Gedling Borough Council to let it take over a community centre under threat of being sold to housing developers.

Haywood Road Community Centre, Mapperley, is currently under shared ownership between Gedling Borough Council and voluntary organisation the Haywood Road Community Association.

But the council is consulting on whether to sell the site to property developers to save money.

The centre is used every day by Haywood Road Pre-School, the only nursery in the local area, and for community social activities at evenings and weekends.

And a local campaign group, the ‘Save Haywood Road Community Centre’, is hoping to work with the council to come to an agreement to take over the centre and Porchester Bowls Club, next door, to save the site from being transformed into houses.

The Save Haywood Road Community Community Centre is urging people to sign a petition to save the community centre from being turned into houses.
The ‘Save Haywood Road Community Community Centre’ is hoping to work with Gedling Borough Council to prevent the community centre from being sold and turned into houses.

The group wants to transform the centre into a “state-of-the-art” pre-school, and to ensure it opens to the public on Sundays and turn the green space into a children’s play area.

Paul Drury, a teacher and member of the campaign group, said: “What we want to do is take over the running of the community centre and the area of green space as part of a Community Asset Transfer – which is a procedure the council is allowed to do, it’s a Government policy.

“We can turn that into a wonderful community garden. We could turn the community centre into a brilliant, state-of-the-art pre-school. And then in the evenings and at weekends we can open it up to community groups.

“Children’s parties are already hosted at weekends. But it could be used more – at the moment, it doesn’t open on a Sunday. We can change that, there’s real potential to develop it.”

For the last 40 years, the community centre has been run by the Haywood Road Community Association, which manages bookings and pays all of the bills without any council funding.

The council, meanwhile, is responsible for managing the exterior of the building, but the campaign group says the council does not invest any money into the centre and, in the last ten years, has only fixed the roof of the building and maintained its hedges.

The council says it is faced with reducing its spending by more than £2 million as a result of Government budget cuts and is considering selling the community centre and bowls club to raise cash.

Michael Payne, deputy leader of Gedling Borough Council.

Councillor Michael Payne, deputy leader of Gedling Borough Council, said: “Unfortunately, this means we’re having to explore a number of tough choices including the option to close Haywood Road Community Centre.

“Nothing has been decided and if we can work with the community to find a way that safeguards the centre and generates or saves the council some money, then of course we’d be keen to do that.”

Earlier this year, the council consulted on whether to sell the land on Onchan Park, Carlton, to developers.

But the local authority says that, following responses from local people, it reconsidered its position and is working with the ‘Friends of Onchan Park’ group to secure bids for the regeneration of the park.

Oncham Park, Carlton. Photo credit:
Onchan Park, Carlton. Photo credit:

Gedling Borough Council will hold a vote in February to decide what happens to the Haywood Road site, and the campaign group hopes to submit a business plan by that time.

The group has received more than 1,000 signatures supporting a petition in favour of them taking over the community centre.

“In the process of transferring it, you have to put together a business plan which takes time but doesn’t cost much money,” Mr Drury said.

“Once it is a community asset, you can get European funding, lottery money to do it up and make it into a brilliant centre. There is potential, it could be used more.”