St John’s Wood protesters win social club battle in Barrow Hill Estate

Residents on a St John’s Wood estate are celebrating after a housing organisation keen on converting a community hall into offices backed down in the face of opposition.

The Village Club Hall, on the Barrow Hill Estate, will remain open for hire to community groups after Westminster’s council housing provider CityWest Homes dropped an application to have it converted into a housing management office.

If granted, the move would have left pensioners’ group The New Village Club without a home for its weekly meetings, where they socialise, hold parties and offer company for isolated older people.

The group gathered together a petition against the proposal and the St John’s Wood Society backed their stance.

Patricia Mann, The New Village Club’s secretary, even challenged council leader Cllr Philippa Roe over CityWest Homes’ bid at a recent meeting of the society.

She said: “On Saturday morning I got a letter [from Darren Levy, director of customer services at CityWest Homes] to say that they had withdrawn it and they had taken our members’ views into consideration. It wasn’t just our members – there were other people in the community who were concerned. We were going to lose our club.

“They said that we had been offered an alternative. But it was in Warwick Avenue and our members couldn’t have gone because we have people in wheelchairs and push-frames.

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“So we are very pleased. It’s good to have a positive response from the local council. We do enjoy the club and it is the highlight of some people’s week, it really is.

“Not everybody in St John’s Wood is wealthy; you have got to have something for everybody, don’t you?”

It is understood CityWest Homes is willing to look at making greater use of the building, which only opens once a week for The New Village Club’s meetings.

Darren Levy, director of customer services, said: “Following the recent concerns raised by our residents, we are pleased to advise that we have decided not to explore this option any further.

“As this is no longer being considered, we are renegotiating our lease to remain at the Wellington Road office.”