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Kingsclere community one step closer to securing 24 Swan Street

A Kingsclere community interest group has been given the chance to take full ownership of a beloved local facility.

Kingsclere Performing Arts and Youth College (KPAYC) has been campaigning to save the building at 24 Swan Street 50 – home of the accomplished JLD School of Dance as well several other local businesses – since Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council decided to sell the property to developers in 2021.

The council’s cabinet has now agreed to take the building at 24 Swan Street off the market and give KPAYC the chance to either enter into a 25-year lease at a discounted annual rent, or buy the building at a discounted cost of its market value.

The building at 24 Swan Street
The building at 24 Swan Street

The decision, which came after the previous cabinet decided to give KPAYC just six months to make an offer, was made at a meeting on September 5.

At this meeting, councillor Gavin James, Basingstoke and Deane’s cabinet member for finance and property, said: “I think it is a fantastic compromise. It does not prevent in any way the community purchasing at a later time.

“They are no longer stuck with a six month [deadline]. I know there is a lot of fear in the community that we would get to the point of three weeks from today, [six months] from the original decision, and that was it, it would be flatted.

The building at 24 Swan Street
The building at 24 Swan Street

“That is gone; the threat is gone.”

Councillor Ken Rhatigan (Con, Tadley North, Kingsclere and Baughurst) thanked the cabinet for their “flexibility” in not making “the six-month cliff edge that was likely to happen”.

He said: “I think there is a lot to be excited for with the future of this facility. It gives Kingsclere an opportunity to have some of the parking they have wanted in the past and used in the past.”

He also stated that the decision was something the cabinet “should be proud of”.

Ken Rhatigan
Ken Rhatigan

He added: “Although the administration has changed, we haven’t seen a change in our attitudes as councillors towards community assets and how we should see them as part of our communities.”

Councillor Kerry Morrow (Lib Dem, Tadley North, Kingsclere and Baughurst) thanked the council officers for putting together the lease and hoped that in the future, the council would support the Swan Street project.

He said: “This could be a really great youth hub in Kingsclere. It will be a safe place for learning and also socialising. The performing arts that they offer is top quality.”

Kerry Morrow
Kerry Morrow

Councillor Onnalee Cubitt said: “I think this is a fantastic announcement of our new administration, and it demonstrates our commitment to education, to dance, to music and the arts which is so important to all of us, and it also demonstrates that not only do we talk the talk, but we are walking the walk.”

Councillor Laura James personally thanked Mr Morrow for “tirelessly” pushing the cabinet to make this decision.

Once KPYAC secures the future of the building at 24 Swan Street, it has plans to develop it further by introducing a café, a classroom, a music studio, an office space and many more facilities to the property for the community to use.

KPAYC trustee and JLD owner Hayley Crunden said: “We still need to do continued fundraising every year just to make sure that we maintain it and bring everything we’ve promised and more.

“It has taken off the immediate pressure. However, if we don’t buy it, then in 25 years’ time we could be in this position again.

“It just means that we don’t have to feel like we can’t sleep at night because we might imminently lose it, which has been huge for us.”

KPAYC recently put on the Step Up For Swan Street community music festival which raised funds for the Swan Street project.

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