A vital community hub and activity centre is under threat of closure after Nottingham City Council put up the rent on the building to an unaffordable rate.
From paying a peppercorn rent of £10 for the building, the council is now imposing a rent of £12,000 that increases in under four years time to £20,000!
The Place, which was formed in 1997, is a vital centre for not only the local community but people from all over Nottingham use the facilities. In 2019 (the year before Covid), there were 16,300 entrances to the facility, which demonstrates the popularity of The Place and indicates the enormous mental and physical wellbeing it brings to so many people.
It is where Sherwood Art week started. This annual event is welcomed by not only the local community but local businesses too. Everyone in Sherwood gets involved, everyone benefits from it. The loss of The Place will have a devastating impact on local businesses in a time when businesses are already struggling.
The not for profit company that runs The Place has maintained the building of its own accord. It hasn’t cost the council anything. Infact, the council has benefitted from the management committee maintaining their building for free!
By keeping the rent low, it has helped keep entrance fees low, so that many more people who can’t afford much can come and participate in events and benefit from activities. It allows for new groups to be formed. In a time when so many have so little, to lose such a vital hub will be a crime.
With the current cost of living crisis, the need for activity centres like this, ones that act as the hub of the community, are as important as it has ever been. Warm hubs, mental well being, physical health support and education have never been more needed. We are losing our communities. Communities are a place where people can interact, share ideas and common interests and to mix with groups of people with diverse characteristics. It brings people together and as human beings, we need a sense of belonging and that sense of belonging is what connects us to many relationships we develop. To lose such a place like The Place is to lose another part of our community and to what makes people feel they belong.
The campaign to ‘Save The Place’ has already begun. Its popularity has been clearly demonstrated. There was a large gathering of people to a recent public meeting which was also attended by councillors. Over 1,000 residents have already signed a petition in a short period of time.
The management committee has been refreshed with new members who have already begun formulating lots of new ideas that will help expand events and activities and help with communities in need.
Thulani Molife, the chairman of the centre said ‘I do think that The Place is Sherwood’s most hidden asset and it would be terrible for it to close. So many things that are now well established, started here. When I walk around Sherwood, I see so many eateries that started here, so we have had a big impact on the area’.
Peter Churchill, the Save The Place campaign manager and also a user of The Place, stated that ‘The Place for me is somewhere where I can go as someone who is new to Nottingham. It is where I can meet other people who love to paint. Painting is an activity that provides me with immeasurable physical and mental health benefits. It de-stresses me and I feel better for painting with friends.
Vanessa Gretton who runs Pilates classes said ‘the main hall at The Place is a great space, it’s large, bright and airy. Its locality provides easy access and there is ample parking close by. Nothing else in the community compares to it, it’s a real gem. I have held classes at The Place for 16 years and prior to Covid, I taught approximately 130 people from Sherwood and surrounding areas every week. Over the years I must have helped hundreds of local people feel better both physically and mentally!’