Welcome Hall: Monthly Update May 2021

Additional early June update, 09.06: today saw the launch of our Re-opening Welcome Hall Facebook page. Sign up if you’d like more frequent updates or to join us as we enter our summer of community conversations about the possibilities for future use of Welcome Hall.

We’re making steady progress with the feasibility study, the timetable for which is now completion by end of October.  Just a reminder, the feasibility study is required by the Council before they can sign over the building to us

There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work right now, e.g. talking with an architect firm about what we could do with Welcome Hall; seeking funding for the building surveys; and working to assess the financial feasibility / viability of our broad plans for the activities in the building.

Then, in June, we will begin an engagement programme with Devonport people and citywide stakeholders re what you’d like to do at Welcome Hall, what you’d like to bring to it, and what else you’d like to see happening – look out for publicity re this.

Competition for the building? No

We mentioned last time that Plymouth City Council was advertising the building for sale (their policy, to test the market for such assets whilst also exploring community schemes such as ours).

There was some interest, but no-one proceeded beyond initial enquiries, so there is now no competition. So our sole focus for the coming months is on checking the feasibility – of our ideas, and of making the building fit for purpose for a community centre in 2022 and beyond. If we can satisfy the Council (and ourselves) that the project will work, they could offer us a 35 year lease.

About the project

Zebra Collective is interested in redeveloping Welcome Hall as a community centre for Devonport and Plymouth, fit for purpose in 2021 and into the future.

The centre will offer a café (which will actually be the key feature of the scheme, as explained below), spaces for local groups, office space for community and social care organisations, hire space for classes, meetings, training & events, music nights and other such entertainment in the hall, and community resources such as a digital health hub. Plus there’s the possibility of some accommodation.

The cafe will be the main entry route to the centre, and will be run as a very welcoming, accessible and attractive space. Our intention is that it attracts everyone, i.e. that no-one should be – or feel – excluded. As well as being a lovely physical space that people will want to come to and be in, we see the cafe as the initial contact point for people who may be struggling and seeking some help. Thus the cafe staff will be trained in trauma-informed, strengths-based and inclusive engagement (all core areas of Zebra’s work). —-

Next update in June. Meanwhile – any questions, comments, updates from you… very welcome: email info@zebra.coop

Thanks for reading.

Marc

Marc Gardiner
Welcome Hall Project Team