Freedom Church is delighted to have agreed terms with C. Le Masurier Limited, for the purchase of the former Odeon cinema building for £1 million. It will become known as Freedom Centre.
Since the 1950’s the building, in the heart of St Helier, has been a focus for the community. Freedom Church has announced its plans to renovate and refurbish the property for community use.
Tim Bond, one of the Pastors and spokesperson for Freedom Church Leadership team, says: 'Our vision is to re-generate and transform the landmark building that will be known as Freedom Centre, back into a facility for our Island community. It will once again become a hive of activity, with thousands of people coming through the doors every week. It will become a Community Centre, opposite the new town park, where people can gather and connect. This is a very important step towards our goal of operating at the heart of our Island community.'
The Leadership of Freedom Church are grateful to the Executive Directors and the Board of Le Masurier who have been sympathetic to their desire to return the former Odeon building into a centre for use by the community.
In June 2009 Le Masurier presented their substantial regeneration proposals for the North of Town through redevelopment of property on Bath Street and Rue de Funchal, including a proposal to delist and demolish the former Odeon cinema building.
However, 18 months later in January 2011, following a Ministerial Public meeting, the incumbent Environment Minister decided to retain the former Odeon cinema building on the List of Sites of Special Interest. Since then, in July 2011 the States of Jersey adopted the North of St Helier Masterplan, which designated the former Odeon cinema as a ‘landmark building’ and October 2011 saw the long awaited opening of the Millennium Town Park.
Ben Ludlam, Group Property Director of C Le Masurier Limited, says: 'Many States Members, local community groups and the wider Jersey public have persistently urged Le Masurier to consider alternative uses for the building which has been incredibly difficult to achieve given the building’s SSI status and its unique nature and structure.
Over many years we have made every effort to do something with the building, exhausting numerous attempts to identify a viable economic use. We submitted a planning application for retail use in 2006 and operating the Odeon as the New Forum was attempted but sadly proved unsustainable.
We are therefore delighted that Freedom Church has come forward with a proposed use of the building, which will benefit the entire community.
Le Masurier remains fully committed to substantially regenerating the area to the south of the Freedom Centre and are actively engaging with the Environment Minister and the Planning Department in this respect’.
Freedom Church own and operate from Immanuel Christian Centre on Victoria Street in St Helier. Due to the size of the congregation, Freedom Church has been using various rented premises for their Sunday Services; they currently meet at Hautlieu School each week.
Post purchase this Friday, there will be a lot of work to do and fundraising for the restoration and refurbishment project will begin. Already there have been multiple, significant donations from members of Freedom Church. Any contributions and donations from members of the community and from the corporate sector, who see the value of this project, would be very welcome.
Tim Bond says: ‘We are considering a wide range of ideas for this building including an area for youth work and activities for young people, a jungle gym for children, a café, meeting rooms and conference facilities.’
The Freedom Centre project is coordinated by Senior Pastor Dr John Stewart-Jones, Pastors Andrew De Gruchy and Tim Bond who together form the Senior Leadership team at Freedom Church. Financial management and advice is provided by Stuart Stables, who has considerable experience in the banking world. The project team is supported by a significant number of highly qualified personnel with experience in a variety of industries including: construction, legal, financial, media, educational and the caring professions, who have pledged their support to the Freedom Centre project and to the overall vision of Freedom Church.