Lancaster City Council church decision gives new hope to Morecambe arts venue

Members of The Exchange Creative Community, Morecambe
Members of The Exchange Creative Community, Morecambe

A former church in Morecambe has been officially listed by the city council as an Asset of Community Value.

The news about the former Trinity Methodist Church means arts organisation the Exchange Creative Community could still find a way to remain at the site despite being given notice to leave by its owners, who put the property up for auction last month.

Beki Melrose is a co-director of The Exchange Creative Community, Morecambe

Beki Melrose is a co-director of The Exchange Creative Community, Morecambe

The Exchange team has been crowdfunding in order to help it remain at the church,

Having the church listed as an Asset of Community Value means the team can ‘pause’ any sale, giving them up to six months to find the funding required to buy the property.

On their website the team say: “We sincerely hope that the owners will take pause and understand the impact this building could bring to our community and the role that they can play in making this happen. For the best part of 20 years this building has stood mostly unused and continues to suffer through serious neglect. In the last 12 months collectively we have breathed more life, opportunity and possibility into it through the ad-hoc use we were granted and has enabled us to create a vibrant and prosperous vision for its future.”

The group has now raised more than £6,000 of its £10,000 target, with fundraising ending on Friday. To help, go to www.crowdfunder.co.uk/steepleforthepeople

Beki Melrose, one of the directors, said: “Moving forward we are in the process of creating a Community Benefit Society with associated community share offer that will see us continue to strive towards securing community owned buildings in Morecambe, giving local people a real say and stake in Morecambe’s future.

“This will have an emphasis on supporting the incubation and growth of community led projects and enterprises.

“There is a lot of energy in the West End at the moment, our hope is that this new organisation will unite many people and organisations with a common goal of seeing our area and the people in it thrive.

“Over the last three years we have come to understand the role buildings and spaces play in community life: particularly in bring people together, creating local opportunities and collectively building a strong sense of community pride.

“We also feel strongly that as the area continues to improve, these key spaces spaces will enable us, as a community to continue to collectively invest in our area to make it a better place to live, work and play.”

*The Exchange has been selected as a finalist in the UK Social Enterprise Awards 2018 for the Transformative Community Business Award.