Community centre’s future is secure after Essex County Council bought a former police station which also freed up a surplus piece of land for housing.
Essex County Council has been working with the Moulsham Lodge Community Trust (MLCT) to find it a permanent home ever since its community centre in Waltham Glen, off Gloucester Avenue, Chelmsford, closed in 2005.
After negotiating a short-term lease for the community centre to run from a former police station nearby in 2014, the council has finally struck a deal to purchase the building from Essex Police, which means a long term lease can be handed to MLCT, putting an end to years of uncertainty.
This completes the transition of community use from the old Waltham Glen site to the former police station.
Cllr John Spence, Cabinet member responsible for housing, said: “The purchase of the former police station on Gloucester Avenue means we have secured the long-term future of this important community hub, so it can continue to run events like its annual fun day.
“It’s a fantastic solution for residents because the purchase also frees up the old Waltham Glen site, which had lain disused for more than 12 years, for 26 much-needed affordable homes.”
Essex County Council will now submit a planning application for the Waltham Glen site for 15 two-bed and 11 one-bed apartments, eight of which will be affordable.
There will be a public consultation on the proposals, while information will be on display at the MLCT community centre to help answer residents’ questions.
Councillor Dick Madden, the county councillor covering Moulsham Lodge, has fought for the community centre ever since its closure in 2005.
He said: “This is a fantastic example of partnership working at its best, with the council, the Police and Crime Commissioner, Essex Police and the MLCT striving to secure a permanent home for this vital community hub.”
It is one of several sites set to be developed by Essex Housing, the council’s in-house team that works with public sector partners countywide to identify surplus land for development to make the most of taxpayer-owned assets.
Roger Hirst, Essex’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “This is a great outcome for the Moulsham Lodge Community Trust and the nearby residents. This vital hub will continue to support community cohesion and I am delighted to see the building being put to continued good use.”
Cllr Mark Springett, a Chelmsford City Councillor and CEO and Chairman of MLCT, said: “After many years of uncertainty and disappointment, the community can now really plan for the future with the proposed 99 year lease.
“Our vision is to improve the lives of residents by helping them make a positive change to their lifestyles, offering opportunities for educational, social and recreational activities for people of all ages and backgrounds.”