Our Dreams for the Queen Elizabeth Park Centre
Planning permission for most new housing estates often includes a provision for a community space. With the Queen Elizabeth Park Estate, this community space was guaranteed by a County Council "106 Agreement" for 20 years in the form of a lease on the first and second floors of Centre. We won this 20 year lease to manage the Community Centre in 2010 and have since installed lighting, meeting rooms, audio visual equipment and a catering kitchen. It is an ideal venue for birthday parties, fitness and dance classes, committee meetings and personal tuition classes etc.
However, in November 2012, we had the opportunity to purchase the freehold of the whole building including sole possession of the ground floor and 24 car parking spaces. Now that we have responsibility for the whole building, we are planning to install a coffee shop facility in the ground floor which is currently empty.
Approaching 1000 people make use of the Centre each week and we would like the ground floor to compliment what we have already established on the upper floors. We conducted a community survey over Christmas 2012 which indicated that the most popular idea among our neighbours is for a Community Café, a Homework Club and a Youth Café. Many people that use the upper floors would value somewhere to go and chat over a drink or snack.
As a church, we believe that while there is a growing interest in the person of Jesus, a church service at 10.30am on a Sunday is not something that would interest them. Jesus never came to set up church services where people sit in rows anyway! But he did engage with people, sometimes in huge crowds. He formed a community around himself. Our desire for the ground floor is for something that is recognisably a "church space", but one that is user friendly and open to all, where new community groups can grow and develop and where hospitality is warm, welcoming and modern. We want to be and to create community.