The council has this week agreed to sell the property to Ross Baptist Church as a community facility with assurances that the youth services currently provided there can continue.
Following a review of the youth service last year when it became clear it could not continue to operate the Y-Zone, Herefordshire Council began discussions with the current users and local community groups. None had the resources to be able to commit to this level of investment apart from the church. The council was delighted when the church came up with a viable plan to purchase and operate the building, with a clear commitment to maintaining its use for the community and young people.
Cllr Andrew Atkinson, ward councillor, said: "Ross Baptist Church buying the Y-Zone building is the best outcome imaginable. The building will still be used for community youth work and it will be run by local people who understand the needs of the town and our young people, whilst also housing their church office.
“The church has really stepped up to the mark and made a difference in the town which will benefit many local people. It has been a pleasure to work with them on this project."
The purchase is being funded entirely by the church and the premises are to be managed in consultation with a group of regular centre users.
It will be available for hire by individuals or groups delivering a community benefit and will be operated on a not for profit basis, with hire fees based on those currently charged by the council.
The church hopes to extend the use of the Y-Zone and one exciting plan is the establishment of a job club there to address the needs of those looking for employment.
Melvin Reynolds, who led the Ross Baptist Church team responsible for co-ordinating the purchase, paid tribute to the goodwill and encouragement received during the protracted discussions.
“This has not been without its challenges, and without the good-natured co-operation of everyone involved it would not have happened.
“Although purchasing the Y-Zone is a big step for us it will enable existing users, and we hope new ones, to use these centrally located Y-Zone facilities for the benefit of the Ross area. It opens up opportunities for strengthening the community in difficult economic times.”