Modernised community hall is better, brighter and accessible for all
A community hall set above a parade of shops in a Hoxton housing estate has become accessible-for-all thanks to a refurbishment project by Hackney Council in partnership with Wenlock Barn Tenant Management Organisation.
The renovation of Wenlock Barn Community Hall, in Cropley Street, has seen windows replaced, and electrics and insulation overhauled to modernise the building and make it a more comfortable and pleasant place to be.
There is also a new kitchen, baby-changing facilities and disabled toilets. In the past the hall was only accessible by stairs, but a new platform lift allows all members of the community to access the building, including those with limited mobility and wheelchair-users.
The hall is also one of the first community assets to benefit from the Council’s ‘Better Broadband’ programme: a partnership between the Council and full-fibre broadband providers to offer faster, more reliable and internet services to people living in Council homes in Hackney. As part of this, companies provide free broadband to nominated community sites, including community halls, housing with care schemes, temporary accommodation, and children’s centres.
The refurbishment project - driven and inspired by Wenlock Barn Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) - is mainly being funded by the Council's development in nearby Nile Street, which has provided a new college and residential units. The TMO not only pushed for this investment, but also contributed additional funds from their own reserves.
The alteration, extension and renovation of Wenlock Barn Community Hall has created a more inclusive, engaging and usable community resource. I want to thank Wenlock Barn TMO and local residents, who spearheaded the project, and without whom this wouldn’t have happened.
The old space, which effectively closed over ten years ago, struggled to meet the needs and aspirations of the local community because it wasn’t safe, accessible or flexible enough to meet their needs.
This renovation will enable a wider range of people to be able to safely and comfortably use the building - and ensures the building meets modern building regulations and is DDA compliant. We know that the TMO and local residents can’t wait to bring this space alive and we hope to see more people using and enjoying the hall than ever before.
A number of consultations about the future plans for the hall were held with residents of Wenlock Barn. As part of this, the TMO, residents, local community groups and ward councillors got to view the final designs for the hall and share their thoughts about the sorts of activities and events they would like to see. Suggestions included: a lift, disabled access, modern facilities and an improved public realm.
The renovation work on the hall is truly fantastic. The space has been totally transformed: it is now light, bright, warm and modern, and most importantly can be enjoyed by all members of the community. This was a long, locally led campaign, but first as local councillor and then Mayor I was committed to listening to the community, making the case for investment and reopening the hall. Wenlock Barn is the largest estate in the area, so it is right that we worked collaboratively with residents and community groups to ensure the hall provides the intergenerational community space they need and want.
David Nkrumah-Buansi, Head of Services, Wenlock Barn TMO, added: “The TMO and the Council have worked magnificently in partnership to deliver this project. A positive demonstration of how the Council can work with TMOs towards a common goal for the benefit of the community.”
The new hall was officially opened by Mayor Glanville alongside local councillors, Wenlock TMO and local residents last Saturday (18 September). On the day, there was a small street party and guided visits of the new space.