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Packington Community Centre ‘too expensive to run’ says housing association that built it

PUBLISHED: 18:23 28 November 2016 | UPDATED: 18:30 28 November 2016

The Arc centre on the Packington Estate. Inset, Cllr Martin Klute. Pictures: Google StreetView/Islington Council

The Arc centre on the Packington Estate. Inset, Cllr Martin Klute. Pictures: Google StreetView/Islington Council

Archant

The Packington Estate’s popular community centre faces an uncertain future – because the housing association that built the hub can’t afford to run it.

Redevelopment: The community centre was built as part of the estate regeneration in 2012. Pictured, the latest chapter of the £170m facelift saw a new park opened earlier this month. Picture: HydeRedevelopment: The community centre was built as part of the estate regeneration in 2012. Pictured, the latest chapter of the £170m facelift saw a new park opened earlier this month. Picture: Hyde

Hyde opened the centre, also known as the Arc, in 2012 as part of the Packington Square development.

The 100-capacity space is used by community groups and St Peter’s ward councillors, who hold surgeries there.

But only a third of its £116,000 annual running cost is met by bookings, with the rest coming out of the housing association’s own coffers.

It now says money is too tight in the wake of government cuts to continue picking up the tab.

In a letter sent to neighbours, Hyde proposed the centre could be leased to the Packington Children’s Centre, which provides childcare services to kids under five, to offload the cost.

But Labour’s Cllr Martin Klute accused Hyde of “abdicating responsibility” for the centre.

“What they are indisputably doing is isolating themselves from any financial risk of running the centre, and passing the risk on to whoever takes the lease,” he said.

“I think Hyde are defaulting on their social obligations to ensure their estate has community facilities.”

"Following a review of the Arc community centre in Islington to determine whether the centre is financially viable in its current state, we are recommending that the building is leased to a group or organisation who will deliver services that benefit the community"

Hyde Housing statement

The estate has undergone a £170million facelift since 2007, when its council housing stock was transferred to Hyde.

Vivien Cutler, an ex-headteacher and Labour delegate for the ward, said the local Labour group “would not be able to pay” if the proposal meant an increase in prices.

She said: “It’s not just us – all the councillors have their surgeries there. This is the diminution of affordable space.”

A Hyde spokesperson said: “Following a review of the Arc community centre in Islington to determine whether the centre is financially viable in its current state, we are recommending the building is leased to a group or organisation who will deliver services that benefit the community.”

Hyde has opened a consultation, which will run until December 20. You can respond by e-mailing communitycentresreview@hyde-housing.co.uk or visiting hyde-housing.co.uk.

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