Charities look for new homes in Stratford after Foundation House told it has to close
FOUNDATION House, the community hub in Stratford’s Masons Road, is to close this summer sparking an appeal for new homes for charities and groups.
And in the longer term, it has put back on the agenda the need for a new community hub in Stratford which can house organisations under one roof.
Stratford Town Trust, which runs Foundation House, revealed this week that its landlord had exercised a break clause in its lease, giving the trust notice to quit by 21st June.
The building, which opened as a hub in 2018, provides low-cost space to 12 charities, as well as hosting community activities and offering flexible spaces for hire.
The trust said it was told by the landlord earlier this year that they want to develop the land as part of the Canal Quarter Redevelopment Zone – the large-scale scheme to create new homes and business premises. The trust attempted to negotiate an extension of the lease to provide enough time to find alternative premises, but this wasn’t granted, it added.
Sara Aspley, trust chief executive, said: “It’s extremely disappointing to be moving out of Foundation House in this way. We had hoped for more time to plan, but it is simply out of our hands.
“We genuinely value the work all our groups deliver within our hub and have seen first-hand the positive impact it has had on the lives of so many people. We remain committed to the need for a community hub in the town and hope that from this situation will emerge a new facility of which we can all be proud.”
The trust said it is exploring the possibility of running some of its community hub activities from Venture House for a period of 12 months while they seek a longer-term solution.
That longer-term solution would be a community hub in a residential area of Stratford, but that leaves the questions of where it could be based and how it could be funded.
A spokesperson for the trust told the Herald it was actively looking for a new long-term home and would welcome suggestions from Stratford residents and businesses.
Currently, Foundation House is used by:
- 2nd Thoughts Drama Group
- Escape Arts
- Heart of England Woodturners
- Men’s Shed
- Shakespeare Lions
- Stratford Army Cadets
- Stratford District Radio Society
- Stratford-upon-Avon Little Bird Baby Bank
- Stratford Youth Theatre
- Warwickshire Reminiscence Action Project
- Welcombe Radio
- Warwickshire Community and Voluntary Action, and
- NHS Diabetic Eye Screening
Peter Keynton Hook, station manager at Welcombe Radio, said it was disappointing to have to move as Foundation House provided the chance to mix with other community groups.
“It comes at a time when we’re recovering from Covid and expanding,” Peter told the Herald. “We put out an email to our members and have already had two offers to use people’s houses if we are really stuck.”
What the radio station really needs is a largish room – or two rooms – where it can set up studios. Parking is essential for the station’s guests (as is good Wi-fi) and it would ideally like to be in a building with other groups.
“A community hub would be great, especially for young people,” he said. “There are lots of groups in town that would flourish at a hub, a place that provides an overall link.”
The trust said it is in the process of meeting with all the Foundation House groups, offering support, brokering introductions and offering funding, if needed, to cover storage costs in the short-term.
Anyone that can offer space can email hub manager Fran Nibbs at firstname.lastname@example.org. Peter Keynton Hook can be contacted at email@example.com.