Residents buy local chapel to turn it into a community centre

Kingsley Holt Chapel, in Staffordshire, was registered as an asset of community value and bought with support from Co-operative and Community Finance

Residents of Kingsley Holt, a village near Cheadle, Staffordshire, have come together to save and repurpose their local chapel as a thriving community centre with a meeting space, shop and café.

The church closed for regular worship in 2019 due to a dwindling congregation. The church, opened in 1937, had been an important focal point for the community, hosting events, carnivals, Christmas fairs and carol services and its trustees wanted residents to find alternative uses for it. In response, the local community rallied together, managing activities at the centre and hiring it out for events.

In May 2021 Methodist Trustees announced that the Chapel was to be sold and locals – who had already lost the village’s last remaining shop – applied to the local council to register and protect it as an Asset of Community Value (ACV. Soon after Kingsley Holt Centre was registered as a community benefit society and locals began to plan its purchase.

Securing loans from Co-operative & Community Finance (CCF) and its Co-op Loan Fund, and drawing investment from more than 120 members through a community share offer, the society completed the purchase on 5 September is now drawing up plans to change the internal layout, with meeting space, shop and café.

Kevin Lloyd-Evans, lending and relationship manager at CCF, said: “Kingsley Holt is a great story of a community overcoming significant challenges to secure a community asset. Martin and the group have been amazing, and really battled through to make this happen. This really does give hope to community groups looking to secure community assets.”

Kingsley Holt Centre

Martin Wheeler, chair of Kingsley Holt Centre, said: “When we first started on this project, we had to do an amazing amount of research. We visited other groups for advice and on one of these visits CCF was recommended to us. From the very first contact it was evident that this was an invaluable recommendation. Kevin worked very closely with us on this project from first contact providing advice, information access to funding in addition to loans. We are very excited about this project and it’s very reassuring to know we will have the expertise of CCF working alongside us going forward.”

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