Sunday, September 6, 2009

Future of URC on Cherry Hinton Road discussed

This afternoon Emmanuel United Reformed Church on Cherry Hinton Road held a public discussion about possible future uses for their site. I was at the church's barbecue, presentation and discussion this afternoon at which various ideas were bounced around.

For background: the church on Cherry Hinton Road merged with Emmanuel URC on Trumpington Street in January this year. The regular congregation at Cherry Hinton Road is around eight at the moment, but while they have every intention of continuing to worship there they are keen for the site to have a greater level of use than it currently has.

The church has canvassed local opinion and it is excellent news that they are trying to engage the wider community in their planning. The minister was keen to point out that no, they have no intention of allowing the site to become a Tesco store or high-rise flats!

Already there are many other things going on on the site, such as the Bumble Bears Pre-School Nursery, and the Christ Embassy Church also worships there. Many of the ideas discussed revolved around additional community activities, including shared meals, but seemed to be things which could be done without a principal change to the usage of the site. Some form of development of part of the site, such as for elderly residential use, was also in consideration.

The University of the Third Age was interested in leasing the site to use as a network of classrooms, since they are expecting to have to leave their site on Bridge Street in the future. [CORRECTION: see comment on this article from the Cambridge chairman - it seems this must just have been someone's suggestion as it's not part of their plans]

It was noted that the council is keen for the church to keep the building, and there did seem to be a lot of feeling that it should continue to be used for its current purpose.

A representative of the Greek Orthodox church, which currently uses St Clement's Anglican church on Bridge Street, said that they would be interested in buying a lease or freehold for the entire site so that they could move there, and if they did, to continue an arrangement with the two existing congregations and other uses of the site. This sounds to me like a potential win-win solution, but of course it will be up to URC members what they finally decide to do!

Thanks to the church for their hospitality from Andy, Phil and Chris of Coleridge Conservatives.


Janet Edwards said...

I am the chairman of U3A in Cambridge. We are looking for new premises but it would be wrong to think that we are thinking of moving to the URC building! Yhis was the first I had heard of the possibility so it may be someone's idea but no more than this!
Janet Edwards

Andrew Bower said...

Janet, Thank you for correcting that point; I have updated the article accordingly.