In Slyne-with-Hest the Anglican Church of St Luke's and the Hest Bank United Reformed Church entered into an agreement to share the buildings at St Luke's. At this time the church and hall formerly used by the URC was sold. This resulted in the loss of a hall in the village which had formerly been available for hire.
The Church Hall at St. Luke 's was built in 1939 on land adjacent to the Church grounds, purchased for this purpose. Although the building was soundly constructed for the time, it is said that it was planned to replace it about 10 years later. This did not happen, and despite sound maintenance in the first half of its life, concomitant with extensive use by the Church and the community, gradually the building became more and more expensive to run and especially to maintain. The Parochial Church Council had other more pressing matters on which to spend what were becoming sparse financial resources. It became obvious that the Hall was close to the end of its useful, safe, life, but no financial resources were available either to carry out the extensive modernisation and repair work needed, or to finance a new build.
The URC had some funds and were gifted a legacy. It was considered that the best use of the legacy was to provide a replacement hall. It took a number of years of dialogue with the Diocese and Synod of the two churches to finally agree to the establishment of a trust, independent of either church to replace and run a new hall. A constitution was agreed with the Charity Commission on 10th October 2017 and the Trust was registered as a charity (no. 1175313) on 23rd October 2017.
The Trustees are drawn from the two churches under an independent chair and the objects are the provision and maintenance of a hall for the use of the inhabitants of the village of Slyne-with-Hest near the city of Lancaster for use as
a) a Church Hall to further the religious and charitable work of the Church of England and the United Reformed Church, and
b) a Village Hall for the use of the inhabitants of the village without distinction of political, religious or other opinions, including use for meetings, lectures and classes, and other forms of recreation and leisure-time occupation, with the object of improving the conditions of life of the inhabitants.
Nothing in this constitution shall authorise an application of the property for the purposes which are not charitable.
Initial funding to the Trust was provided from the URC. The Trust purchased the site of the old hall from the Anglican Church, together with a strip of land to Manor Close from Lancaster County Council. These purchases were delayed due to an anomaly in a previous Land Registry, but when the sale was completed the Anglican Church gifted the net monies from the sale to the Trust.
Architects were consulted and Harrison Pitt Architects were appointed to produce designs for the new hall. Investigations and surveys were undertaken and planning permission obtained for a building with two levels. The cost estimates indicated a shortfall in funding which meant the Trustees were obliged to offer the work to tender without fitting out the upper level. Unfortunately investigations revealed that the drainage from the hall building was not to present day standards, nor were they shown on any maps. This resulted in a further impact on the cost estimates.
A contract for this build went to tender and JT Construction Ltd were appointed as main contractors.
Finally on the 21st February 2019 the old hall was demolished to make way for a more comfortable and efficient replacement. This work is scheduled to be completed December 2019.
The new hall is due to be completed by mid-December and once a premises licence has been obtained it will be open for business. This will allow the churches to continue a mother and toddler group (Shining Stars), an Agapé Lunch for singletons, a fragility exercise group (Body and Soul), a youth club (Urban Saints), a table tennis group and similar community outreaches which the churches wish to promote. There have already been enquiries from other groups who wish to hire the facilities.
The construction of the new build has been undertaken on a VAT exempt status. It is hoped that the work on the upper floor can run on before it would be considered a modification and incur additional costs. To this end grants were obtained for Phase 1, from:-
The Duchy of Lancaster
AllChurches Trust (through Ecumenical Insurance)
Lancashire Environmental Fund
Further funds have been raised by donations, sponsorship and community events.
We continue to seek additional funding to enable the commissioning of Phase 2, but in the meanwhile welcome enquiries to use the hall by organisations and members of our community.