Community centre to close and be used by playgroup

A LONG-standing community centre set up in a derelict school building by a group of residents, is to close its doors next month.

The Hookstone Chase Community Centre, Hookstone Chase, Harrogate, was opened more than a decade ago after residents raised £30,000, and has been used by hundreds of people for community events ranging from police meetings to children’s music classes.

It has been run by the Hookstone Chase Community Association (HCCA), a group of residents which was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for their work.

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But the Yorkshire Post has learned that the community centre will now be closing from May 27 and the lease for the building taken up by the Bright Sparks playgroup instead.

Chair of the HCCA, Deborah Thornton, 51, said: “We have run it for a long time and no more people have stepped forward.

“It is always sad when things change but the groups that use it are not solely dependent on the building.

“The playgroup is thriving and we know if we gave it over, it would be in great hands. There was a lot of crime at the building before and youngsters used to come in and trash the place.

“It was a magnet for youngsters to break in.”

The HCCA first took the lease for the building, in a redundant school caretaker’s cottage owned by North Yorkshire County Council, in 1997.

The lease expired in 2007 but the group has remained in charge of the building until the playgroup, which already uses the centre, decided to take it over.

The groups that currently use the centre, including a yoga class, pilates class, children’s music class and church group, have been informed of the decision to hand over the lease.

Coun Pat Marsh, who has worked with the HCCA since the beginning of the project, said: “They are a shining example of how a community group can come together.

“The work they have done is unbelievable.

“There is a sadness it is closing for a section of the community.

“That community groups will no longer be able to access it is disappointing, but the groups that are using it could possibly be run elsewhere.