Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bold Vision for Telegraph Hill Centre

Bold Vision are having an open day today (11-2) up at the Telegraph Hill Centre (Kitto Road) to keep people informed and involved in their plan to create a new community space/cafe there - the photo above is of their earlier event in June. The current thinking is that the emtpy undercroft of the building - underneath the now closed Cafe Orange - could be converted into usable space.

I wish them well, but it would surely make sense to bring the upstairs ex-Cafe Orange space back into community use too. Since the Cafe closed it has been rented out by Askes school for use as a Sixth Form Common Room, presumably to get the smoking sixth formers off the streets at lunchtime. This really shouldn't be a long term arrangement - after all the Telegraph Hill Centre was built specifically to be just the kind of community space that Bold Vision now envisage. Call me a hopeless utopian but my vote would be to create a community cafe downstairs and then reopen the library that used to be upstairs!


grungedandy said...

As someone who has lived on the hill for a very long time & has connections to the space this is very close to my heart, and I’m not sure if you or your readers know the history behind all this.

The land was orginally owned by the church and in an act of good faith back in the 70’s they sold it to the council for a pepercorn fee (so no profit) with the understanding that they would build a community center ! Which they did and I think it was opened by a royal (can’t remember which one though) anyway the part that was café orange was originally the local library, all was well for a time then the council had to make cuts & things got hard the library closed eventually the council decided to sell the center (which is attached to the church!) when the church sold the land to the council they never expected them to go off & sell the center for a profit when things got bad, with out giving them an option to buy (the origianl lawers droped the ball there!) So in order to retain the center (this is everything that is not the original church, so that’s the glass entrance, where they have tea & coffe, the toilets & the café orange space) They had to come up with a lot of money (with out the help of Asks they wouldn’t have been able to do this) So the center at the moment is owned & run by the church NOT the council! This means they have to find £30,000.00 I’d say, don’t know exactly but I know heating, lighting, insurance, cleaning, maintenece, including mending the glass every 2 or 3 months because some pr*t breaks into steel what ever & then finds nothing as they don’t keep anything on the premisse anyway I digress, along with rates & staff extra you get the jist, to run it out of the budget they are allocated to run, insure, heat, staff, extra the church (not the center), needless to say they have to find extra income in order for it to stay open, there used to be a charity organisation that ran café orange and was based there & paid rent which allowed the church to keep the center open for all not just the church goes but for the community at large no matter what faith back ground if any at all, but they have moved on!
So the church has to find the money again or the center closes!
ok gonna have to do this in 2 parts next comment is continuation

grungedandy said...

So part 2 continued

Up until recently the church was rasing funds for the roof as it was in a bad condition & would soon need a complete over hall. Thankfully after much fund raising effots & help from both Asks & a bequethment the money was raised & The church will continue, because with out this help both the church & the center would have been closed & sold! Probably to developers & there wouldn’t be any center for the community & also no church, it wasn’t considered old or important enough to get help from any of the organisations they approached! So they were left to do it on they’re own, They being, not just the paid staff but the small army of people who give up they’re free time to help!

In this day an age of people not going to church except at chritmas, maybe easter, the ocational wedding & sometimes baptisiums! Yet complaine about what the church is doing, I think is a little hypicrital, they are trying they’re best to work out something that will benefit all, cut them a break, it’s not as though they have wealthy celebrates throwning money at them & they can do what they please, a lot pf people think the church as a whole is rolling in money some of the bigger ones may be but the small not famous ones don’t have a money pot & the church over all is not a bottemless pit only by selling off the land & churches will the money be recovered, they are run mostly to break even & some at a loss, it’s more a hand to mouth business, and they are just trying to survive & serve a community that doesn’t always want to know!
Anyway just my opion & every one is allowed one (or two) so sorry my delurking was a long one but, you hit a nerve, as your eccoing a few people I’ve spoken to.

I would just like to say I do appriceate you doing this blog & have found out many things I did’t know about the area, keep it up, and sorry to sound off like that, but it got me.

Seeya hugya *G*

Transpontine said...

Thanks for the background information, I wasn't fully aware of the role of the council in the centre's history. I think my original post was quite measured and not intended to be critical of any of the parties involved. The church has a space it needs to rent out, the school needs a space and has the money to pay for it, everyone's happy. The ideas for a Community Trust (Bold Vision) are interesting but at an early stage and Askes are a safer bet for now.

However my view stands that it would be a shame if Askes permanently annexed the former library/cafe space for its exclusive use. This would benefit a small number of people, and the vision for the place when it was first built was that it would be for the wider community - not just the school, the church, or even the residents of the conservation area, but the wider New Cross/Brockley community covered by the former Telegraph Hill Social Council. You are right though that making that happend can't be left to just a few stretched volunteers.

Darius said...

When the Hatcham Liberal Club went on sale there was a restrictive covenant attached that any future development had to include community use - perhaps the Telegraph Hill Centre has one too.

Transpontine said...

I don't think there's any real danger of the space being sold off or used for private gain, and the school sixth formers are part of the community after all. But with good will and a shared effort the space has the potential to be opened up to much wider community use (and indeed the same could be said of the facilities on Askes' two school sites, not to mention all the buildings owned by Goldsmiths down in New Cross)