Chichester groups seeking new homes after The Venue is sold

PACSO earlier this year after receiving a donation from Sainsbury's. Picture by Kate Shemilt
PACSO earlier this year after receiving a donation from Sainsbury's. Picture by Kate Shemilt

THE FUTURE of a number of community groups is uncertain after news broke an activity centre is set to be sold.

The Venue, in Spur Road, Chichester, has been home to the Revelation Church for around 15 years, however the building is now to be sold by the owner to a commercial company.

Senior pastor Dan Slatter said the church was one of the ‘pioneering’ religious organisations which took an industrial centre and turned it into a hub for community groups.

“It’s a real shame, but it’s one of those difficult situations where it’s out of our control. We’ve got a lease.

“We tried to renew that lease, but the owners made a different decision,” he added.

The Venue is used by numerous community groups, including the City Angels, PACSO (Parents and Carers Support Organisation), NHS blood donations, and entertainment events.

The building is owned by Spur Properties, a subsidiary of Covers. Mr Slatter said: “We’ve been looking at different properties in the area. There’s nothing that really suits our needs.”

He said this highlighted the ‘unique nature’ of the Venue.

PACSO first moved into the Venue 14 years ago, in 1999.

It offers play opportunities for disabled children and their siblings, which provides respite for the whole family.

“We were really sad about it, but we completely understand,” said Val Evans, PACSO operations manager.

“We’ve been with the Revelation Church from the beginning and they’ve been hugely supportive.

“It’s just circumstances. It’s one of those things. It’s unfortunate.”

PACSO is now on the hunt for a new site in the area and has until March – when it could end up homeless.

“We’re sad, but by the same token we have to take this as being a new opportunity for us. The great thing is we’ve got six months’ notice,” she said.

She added it was convenient for PACSO to have a fixed venue, because it had play equipment to set up each time.

“When you’re dealing with children with special needs, they don’t deal with change well,” she said.

“We don’t want children to get anxious because they’re going to a different venue every month.”

Mr Slatter said the Revelation Church would go mobile in the short-term, when it moved out in April.

“One of the things I would really want to come across from the church’s perspective is that we remain completely committed to Chichester and this is a situation that’s been put upon us, which is just life.”