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Church reveals why it pulled out of centre plan for Matthewsgreen development

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Growth means planned community centre wouldn’t be big enough

A CHURCH that had been appointed to run a new community centre has said that the plans were a compromise, and that was one of the reasons why they felt they had to pull out.

Last week, we revealed that Kings Church was no longer going to run the Matthewsgreen Community Centre which is due to open in 2020 as part of the Matthewsgreen development off Tywford Road in Wokingham.

Earlier this summer, the planning committee had approved a scheme which would have seen the church provide a cafe and office space, but even with this increase space it wouldn’t have been big enough for the church.

In a statement, Kings Church said that it had been in constant discussion with council officers since they were appointed as centre operators back in February. It had been hoped that the centre would be run along similar lines to the FBC Centre in Finchampstead, run by the village’s Baptist church.

However, the church felt that its continued growth, both in its adult and children’s congregations, meant that the site would be too small.

“Our growth made us question whether the facility, when delivered in 2020, will be suitable for our needs,” the statement reads. “It was always a compromise, requiring use of the adjacent school facilities on a Sunday, which neither the Council nor Kings Church could guarantee would be delivered.

“Kings Church had indicated a willingness to invest £1m to create extra space for a café and other facilities which were felt necessary to ensure the building becomes a real ‘hub’ for the community.

“However, in the event, agreeing the timing of this payment and appropriate compensation to the Church for any early termination of the contract by the Council has proved problematic.”

And the church’s thinking was crystalised after it appointed Owen Hayward as its new leader.

The pastor moved from Plymouth with his family at the end of May to join the church.

“Since that time, the team has been reviewing all aspects of the Church’s work and future plans, including the Community Centre proposal.

“This has led to a decision not to continue to contract stage for the running of the Centre and the elders informed [Council] officers of their decision at the earliest opportunity,” the statement from the church read.

“In reaching this decision, it was recognised that, as a Church, Kings draws people from right across the Borough and beyond, and that the focus right now is on equipping them to live out their Christian lives in the community where God has placed them.

“Kings Church remains committed to continuing its support for the needs of people right across the Borough through their running of Kings Kiddies, Money management and Parenting programmes, and through their involvement with the Wokingham Foodbank and Soulscape.”

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