Ruling set for future of community centre in Ely

Centre E, in Barton Road, Ely.

Centre E, in Barton Road, Ely. - Credit: Archant

Cambridgeshire County Council will decide on Thursday whether a key community building in Ely can be leased to a youth group.

Councillors on the general purposes committee will rule on whether Centre E, in Barton Road, can be leased to the Youth Ely Hub on a peppercorn rent for a period of up to five years.

The building, described by the county council as a former Army drill hall, has faced an uncertain future in recent years as the county council has explored selling or redeveloping the site into housing.

But, having had little success, county officials were approached by the youth hub – an organisation backed by the City of Ely Council and East Cambridgeshire District Council – about taking on the premises on a short-term rent.

Roger Moore, the council’s head of assets, said: “A joint disposal of the site is now unlikely to proceed, and the Youth Ely Hub has now made a formal approach to Cambridgeshire County Council to take a short-term lease of the whole of the former Centre E building, with a view to establishing a sustainable community use building, until it can either pay a market rent, or alternative premises in Ely can be found.

“Youth Ely Hub have stated that they would like a nominal peppercorn rent for the first year of any tenancy, but would be willing to negotiate a higher concessionary rent or profit share arrangement from the commencement of the second year and thereafter.”

Mr Moore said that the council would retain the right to curtail the rental agreement at any time if it was to move ahead with the sale of the building or if it required the building as part of its services.

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He added: “It must be recognised that if the lease is granted, and the community use is successful, then it will become increasingly unlikely that the county council would realise a capital receipt from the asset until the economic life of the building expires.”