Spital Hill buildings’ future uncertain

Sorby House
Sorby House

Story: Lisa Swift

In September Burngreave New Deal made a public announcement that they would run out of money in December.

New Deal currently own Sorby House, Forum House and lease the Vestry Hall from the Council. While Forum House is currently empty, Sorby House provides office space for a number of local organisations and businesses, and the Vestry Hall hosts adult learning courses and projects.

Closing New Deal an option

At New Deal's partnership board meeting in October, the Executive Asset Manager, Jeremy Diskin explained that they were looking at a number of options including closing the New Deal organisation and selling all the buildings. If this happened, Government funding rules could mean all money spent on the buildings would have to be paid back: the total cost could be as much as £9million.

Sorby House losing money

New Deal’s partnership board, which includes local residents, preferred to attempt to keep just one building. They favour Sorby House, despite it running at a loss of £10,000 per month.

The Council are still the ‘accountable body’ and ultimately responsible for the New Deal programme, and are working with the New Deal board.

The Council told the Messenger, “Sorby House currently operates at a loss which is not sustainable to New Deal even if significant efficiency savings are made.

At the moment, options available to the Board include selling Sorby House or seeking to operate it with support from other sources if these can be found.”

New Deal hope to use money from the sale of several shops on Spital Hill to fill the shortfall – if the government agrees.

The future of the Vestry Hall

The Vestry Hall is leased from the Council so New Deal, who have spent £3 million on refurbishing the listed building, hope to hand back responsibility for running it.

The Council said, “It is anticipated that the Council would wish to ensure this building remains an accessible community building for local groups and local people and the Council has experience in managing such community buildings.”

No choice

New Deal sought the views of local residents at their meeting in October but only 20 residents attended. It was obvious that those present did not want to see any buildings on Spital Hill empty or boarded up but it was impossible for local residents to have a say when the decision was beyond their control and, in reality, that of the New Deal board.

More from New Deal on their pages.

New Deal – the Story so far

New Deal for Communities was a 10 year government regeneration project of £52million for approximately 4000 households in Burngreave. It officially finishes in March 2011.

The idea was to involve local people in the regeneration of the area. Many projects were funded; £11million went on extra Council services and about £10 million on buying and refurbishing buildings, including Sorby House and Vestry Hall.

In February 2009 New Deal announced that almost all the money had been spent. All remaining projects were ended early.

New Deal continued running the buildings at a loss, using reserves, which came from the sale of land at Woodside.

Now the reserves are gone and New Deal want to:

  • Hand Vestry Hall back to the Council

  • Sell Forum House

  • Continue to run Sorby House

  • Use £160,000 from the sale of shops they owned on Spital Hill to continue until March 2011.

New Deal are holding a public meeting on 8th December at Sorby House, 5.30pm

New Deal public meeting
5:30pm to 7:30pm Wednesday 8 December 2010

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The content on this page was added to the website by Saleema Imam on 2010-11-25 15:11:08.
The content of the page was last modified by Jamie Marriott on 2010-11-29 10:36:47.

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