The St John’s Centre has served us well over many years, but is now more of a hindrance than a help to us. The toilet and kitchen facilities are in a poor state of repair, and the basement does flood on occasion. At our September Church Council meeting, we unanimously agreed to sell the site.
Why sell St John’s?
The decision is partly pragmatic – we only use the building a few hours each week for our own activities; much of the time, it is empty.
The decision is also strategic - when a church was originally built on the site in 1911, it served the new housing in the area. These days there are other churches in the vicinity (including St Mark’s on Archers Road and St James Road Methodist Church) – and we’re not out to compete with them! Our own St James' by the Park (which is in a better location) is only half a mile down the road, and many people are willing to travel much further than that to church these days.
The decision is also financial – all our buildings need work doing to bring them up to modern standards, but we cannot afford to do that work on all the buildings. St John’s is the building that is least used and most saleable.
What about the current users?
We only have two of our own groups who use the building regularly – The Ark and Pray n Play. We will probably relocate both of those groups to St James' by the Park. We will work with the other current users to try to help them find suitable alternative accommodation before the sale goes through.
What will it be used for once it’s sold?
That depends who buys it! If a developer buys it, it is likely to be turned into housing. But the building could be sold as it is, if another church or community organisation want to buy it (and some are already interested). Under charity law, we are obliged to get as good a price as possible when we sell it.
How long will it take to sell?
Selling a house typically takes many months. Selling a building like St John’s will take considerably longer – we will need to liaise with church authorities, city planners, solicitors, the Charity Commission and estate agents. How long is a piece of string?!
Tell us your St John’s memories!
For some people, selling St John’s isn’t pragmatic or financial – it’s deeply personal and emotional. We have tried to tell individuals who have the deepest personal connections to St John’s before announcing this news publicly. Before any sale goes ahead, we will have a final thanksgiving service at St John’s to give it a good send off!
We’d love to hear some of your memories of St John’s – and if you’d like to help compile those into a history / memories book – do let us know!