Rescue bid to save popular community hub, reports James Cracknell
Efforts to save a Walthamstow community centre from closure are gathering pace.
Harmony Hall in Truro Road has been under threat for the past two years after Livability, the charity which owns it, ran into financial problems and decided to sell off its property assets. A decision to put the community centre up for sale was postponed earlier this year however, to allow community groups a chance to raise the £1million needed to buy it.
One group, William Morris Big Local, acts as a local distributor of National Lottery money and has tentatively agreed to provide £150,000 – subject to the support of local people. Another £660,000 is being sought via the Good Growth Fund, a City Hall regeneration programme. The remaining money could be raised through a crowdfunding appeal, bank loan, or combination of the two.
Harmony Hall has been managed by Crest Waltham Forest for 20 years. It is used by 1,500 people per week from 70 different community organisations, including mental health support groups, young people’s clubs, faith communities, adult education workshops, health and wellbeing providers, and arts and culture classes.
Alan Horne from Crest told the Echo: “We are trying to put together a funding ‘cocktail’ from different sources. I am optimistic we can do it, but it is still a bit like trying to climb Mount Everest.
“For now Harmony Hall is secure until March 2020. After that we could enter another short-term arrangement, but it could still be put up for sale on the open market.
“We have been heartened by the responses from the community, who have come together to try and save the hall.”
A public meeting was held last month to try to generate more ideas and interest from people who want to save Harmony Hall – local residents are invited to express their views to William Morris Big Local, to demonstrate the building’s importance to the local community.
Campaigners have also launched a petition to save Harmony Hall and are organising a stall at Sunday Social Market, Walthamstow High Street on Sunday 15th December, 11am-3pm.
Livability claims that if Harmony Hall were ever sold it would be protected from redevelopment by planning restrictions on community buildings.
Sign the petition to save Harmony Hall:
Take part in the survey on Harmony Hall being run by William Morris Big Local: