Wicken Village Hall

VILLAGE HALL'S FUTURE SECURED

The purchase of Wicken's Jubilee Mission Hall, to secure and develop its future as a village hall, has been completed safely thanks to successful partnership work between the Parish Council, St Laurence's Church and the Hall Committee.

This is an important step towards putting the hall onto a new and safer footing, to make sure it can continue to offer a great facility for local people to meet.  Under Charity Commission rules it had to be sold, because the church no longer needs it.  Now, under the parish council's ownership, it can be given new charitable aims that suit today's needs.  But it will be 'business as usual', as the hall continues its regular bookings and its usual hire arrangements.

Revd. Eleanor Whalley, Priest in Charge of Soham and Wicken, says: "We hope this move will mean that the hall can go from strength to strength.  We're really pleased that, working with the parish council, we've been able help ensure that the hall remains a community asset for the village.  Huge thanks to all the Hall Committee volunteers, past and present, who keep it going and look after it so well, and to Helen Randall who has managed the sale on behalf of the church."

The next steps for the hall are to create a new charity specifically to run it, and this work is in progress.  Parish councillors have been preparing for it over the past year, so things can move forward as quickly as possible.

Liz Houghton, Chair of Wicken Parish Council, agrees: "We're very pleased that we've been able to take this on. It's been a long-held aim of the parish council to buy the hall, if it became available, because it's such a good community facility.  It's taken a long time and a lot of work to get to this point, and we're looking forward to watching the hall develop under the care of the newly created charity that will be running it once the new set-up is in place."

The Jubilee Mission Hall was built by the vicar and church parishioners in the 1880s, for mission in Wicken.  They used it for Sunday Schools, choir and other Christian activities.  Non-conformity and hiring out were both expressly forbidden!  Once the building was no longer needed for mission it had to be sold, though it's taken several years to get to this point.  Charity law requires the best market price to be obtained, and the proceeds to be reinvested for mission (which was the original donors' aim).  St Laurence's worked hard to demonstrate that the 'best price' available was much less than its independent valuation - in fact, roughly half the market price - and was glad to be allowed to accept the lower price of £87,500.  This was the figure that the District Valuer, an official adviser to the parish council, advised was appropriate. The Charity Commission ruled that the money is to go to St Laurence's Church and that it be used for purposes comparable to those of the original Mission Hall. 

Meanwhile the parish council undertook, as part of the sale agreement, not to sell the hall for development.  However, both sides agreed that it would be possible to sell the hall at some time in the future IF it means that money could be raised to build a better alternative community hall elsewhere in the village. This is NOT planned, but it was a wise precaution to write into the sale agreement, just in case.

Please be assured, while all this is going on, it’s business as usual at the Hall, so if you want any information or to hire it for an event, please contact Jean Turner on 727054.


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