Community hub project achieves biggest milestone after Hive charity reaches agreement to purchase defunct former Sudbury church
An ambitious Sudbury community hub project more than three years in the making has reached its most significant milestone to date, after the sale of a former church to a local charity was agreed.
Hive confirmed it has at last reached an agreement to buy the defunct United Reformed Church (URC) in School Street from the URC Eastern Region Synod, allowing plans to transform it into a multi-use venue to move forward.
The charity is set to take ownership of the Grade II listed building by the start of September, following the exchange of contracts, with refurbishments to the site commencing in the coming weeks.
It is hoped that, subject to all necessary works being completed on schedule, the new Hive Community Hub will be up and running and available for hire from the autumn.
The sale follows a successful fundraising campaign, which began after the URC shut in 2018, and has so far reached £293,000 in grant funding and donations from individuals and organisations.
One of the biggest grants was provided by the Suffolk Community Foundation, through the Joy Abbott Fund, with one of the hub’s hire spaces to be named The Joy Abbott Hall to recognise this contribution.
Shirley Moore, chairman of Hive trustees, said: “We really are indebted to all of the local people, organisations and grant-making trusts that have made this purchase possible.
“There is a lot of hard work still to be done and money to be raised, but our intention is that this building will become an essential venue for the Sudbury community.”
To date, donations have been received from the Lord Phillips Trust, Lord Belstead Trust, Tudwick Foundation, Hillier Trust, Bernard Sunley Foundation, Siemens Healthineers, and former Suffolk county councillors Jack Owen and Colin Spence.
Further funding has also been pledged Sudbury Town Council, Sudbury Freemen’s Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, Colchester Catalyst Charity, the Suffolk Community Foundation’s Maurken Fund and local councillor Peter Beer.
In addition to the purchase, the money will also help finance a series of major repairs at the former URC, which has deteriorated since its closure, including the clearance of extensive overgrowth outside.
Hive trustee Lesley Ford-Platt said a lot of work has to be done before the building is back in use, but the whole organisation was “over the moon” to have reached this point in the project.
“It has been quite hard work,” she told the Free Press. “It was a bit of struggle, but we are finally here. People have been extremely generous and very supportive, which has been amazing.
“The goodwill towards this project is really nice. There are lots of groups that are interested in using the hub – about 30 in all have already expressed an interest.
“It’s exciting and terrifying at the same time. The ambitions for this project are huge.
“We’re absolutely delighted because this is going to be such an important venue for the voluntary sector in Sudbury. We’re absolutely over the moon, because we know the good this building will be able to do for the community.”