CUT-PRICE rent for 18 months at the new Kingsway Community Centre may not be enough to secure the long-term use of the new purpose-built facility.
It is being built by developers and handed over to Gloucester City Council free of charge. But a decision to lease the building back to the community for £10,995 a year has angered some who said they had been assured it would be offered for just a “peppercorn rent”.
The city council responded to community complaints of profiteering by claiming whoever takes on the building will have a valuable asset able to generate “extensive revenue streams”.
It is due to be handed over to the city council by developers in the summer.
The council plans to charge a rental to the group or organisation that will operate it – but not until their third year of operation.
Councillor Frederick Wood, City Council Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources, said: “We will be giving one year’s free rental and the second at half price.
“It is anticipated that the centre will provide a competent operator with a great opportunity to generate income from hire of the various spaces. The potential revenue streams are varied and could include hire of facilities to clubs and groups, use for fitness activities, educational and leisure purposes, weddings and other family occasions.
“In the current economic climate, we have to be realistic about our approach to rents and charges. However, by granting an initial rent-free period of 12 months and a further period of 12 months at half rent, we will assist the successful applicant with building income and creating a sustainable community facility.”
The centre incorporates two function rooms with a kitchen and bar facilities, office and separate male, female and children’s toilets.
Parish councillor Steve Smith said: “We were aware of the 18 months reduced rental period but we were promised the building would have a peppercorn rent, that is not £11,000 a year.
“We have already had two groups say that it would be too expensive for them to use once they have paid the rent to Gloucester City Council and then for utilities.”