There’s life in the old centre yet – Isabel Blackman Centre set for a comeback

It looks like new life will soon be breathed in to the Isabel Blackman Centre which shut down due to county council cuts more than a year ago.

It was announced this week that a partnership consisting of Hastings Voluntary Action (HVA), Age UK East Sussex, Hastings and St Leonards Seniors Forum and Hastings Old Town Residents Association (HOTRA) that has been working hard to return the centre into community hands has raised enough money to buy the building.

It means the partnership’s aim of of creating a facility serving older people and the wider community is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The centre shut in 2019, a victim of East Sussex County Council spending cuts.

While acknowledging that the process still has a number of hurdles to cross the announcement this week confirmed that:

  • A fundraising campaign that has received donations from individuals, groups and charitable trusts has successfully raised sufficient funds to purchase the building.
  • A structural survey has been completed to illustrate the condition of the building and any capital works needed to bring it back into use. 
  • A series of negotiations with East Sussex County Council have been concluded and an agreement has been reached on final price and the terms on which the building could be sold. 
  • A new legal structure (IBC – In perpetuity) has been created which will hold, develop and manage the building ensuring that its future is locally controlled. HVA, HOTRA, the Seniors Forum and  Age UK East Sussex are the founder directors.
  • The company has been created and its registration with the Charities Commission has been submitted. 
  • A transition planning group has begun work to look at how the building could be made Covid-safe and a timeline within which it could be available to local groups.
  • Solicitors have been appointed to conclude the acquisition of IBC.

HVA says: “Like the purchase of any property – there is still much to be done. We are not there yet but we did feel we had reached a point where we could share some potentially exciting news with those who have supported this endeavour.”

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