In July 2021 members were consulted after the Forum became aware that the United Reformed Church and Hall were to close.
For the latest information on the proposed sale see below
The Church has agreed in principle to close in the face of the significant cost of repairs to the roof. The URC hall has been well used by the community for many years, and its closure would be a great loss to the village.
Members were asked for their views on the Forum to approaching the Council with to have the buildings registered as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). This would give it protection from development or sale for a six month period in which the community (not the Forum) would be able to raise funds to purchase it.
Members responded positively to the suggestion and the Forum completed the necessary documentation to have the URC and Hall classified as an Asset of Community Value by South Tyneside Council. The application was partially successful in that the Council has approved the registration of the Hall but not the church (religious buildings cannot be classified as an ACV). This means that the community now has a period of six months to put together a bid to acquire the Hall from the current owners, the United Reformed Church Northern Synod, before the Hall can be sold (although the Synod are under no obligation to accept such a bid).
In order to take this forward, we need to establish a steering group from the community who will work towards putting together a bid to purchase the Hall and be responsible for its ongoing management. The Hall has been a valuable resource for the community for many years and it would be tragic if this opportunity is lost.
If you are interested in being involved, please contact the Forum as soon as possible. The next step will be for those who have expressed an interest to meet to discuss the steps necessary to preserve the Hall for community use in future.
February 2022 update
A group of interested residents has had one meeting to consider options for the hall. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be sufficient interest from across the community to take on the responsibility of buying and running the hall. Representatives from the group have also been unable to access the hall to review the layout and condition as the Synod have not yet arranged access.
The sale process has become clearer. Although the Forum was able to nominate the hall for listing as an asset of community value, any bid for the asset in the initial six week moratorium period can only be submitted by a community interest group. The Council has accepted the Forum’s request to be treated as a possible bidder for the Hall, and so we now have until 18th July to work on the best way to structure a bid.
That does not prevent a community group, individual or business from bidding for the properties when they do eventually come up for sale. We understand from the Synod that the church and hall will be marketed separately possibly in the summer of 2022. We also understand that as a charity the Synod will be seeking to sell to the highest bidder so there is no guarantee that a bid from within the community would be successful.
The expected price of the church and hall has not yet been published.
The buildings are in the middle of the East Boldon Conservation Area and it isn’t clear what the Council’s view on development of the site would be. There is no parking provision or access off the main road. Although the Synod wish to market the properties separately the only ramp access to the church is through the hall.
March 2022 update
If you’re interested in saving the hall or church for the community please contact the Forum as soon as possible.
If you wish to contact us for any reason please leave your details on the Contact Us page.