Residents battle to save Knowle Top Chapel, Stannington, as community building goes up for sale

For generations, it has been at the centre of a Sheffield community.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 11:58 pm

Now, after the former Methodist church at Knowle Top, in Stannington, closed, residents who have used the former chapel and schoolroom have drawn up battle plans as they fight to keep it for the community.

Since it first opened in 1879, as well as church services, the landmark building has been used by organisations ranging from the village’s brass band and keep-fit groups to school breakfast and after-school clubs. Its tiered seating has made it a favourite venue for performance groups.

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Knowle Top Chapel, in Stannington. Residents are hoping to raise money to buy the building for their community

Church closed

With the church’s last service having been held in September, residents want to ensure future generations can use the building as they did, after the property was put up for sale.

This Wednesday, November 24, they are holding a meeting where they will set out their plans to sell ‘community shares’ in the building as part of the fight to secure its future.

In all, they hope to raise £350,000 to buy the building and cover its running costs. The meeting at 7.30pm at Christ Church, Stannington will be run by the group they set up, Action for Knowle Top.

Stannington Brass Band is hoping to help the community buy Knowle Top Chapel, in Stannington. They are holding a fundraising concert

Campaigner Lorraine Dyson said Knowle Top Chapel had been a striking and much-loved landmark in Stannington for over 100 years and had been well used by the community as a rehearsal space and to host concerts, coffee mornings and local drama groups.

Nicola Parris, joint chair of the action group, said “We have a plan to raise the funds to purchase the buildings and manage them for the community. We are forming a community benefit society, planning a share issue and finalising our business plan.

"But we are a small group and urgently need more volunteers to organise fund raising and public engagement events. We are urging people to attend our public meeting as time is now of the essence.”

Community shares plan

Members of Action for Knowle Top, outside Knowle Top Chapel, in Stannington. They are hoping to raise money to buy the building for their community

The group hopes £150,000 can be raised from investments in the community shares. The rest will be financed by grants, donations and – if necessary – a mortgage.

But they say the higher the shares investment, the lower the need for costly loans will be. All money raised will go towards the buildings’ purchase and their ongoing running costs, even if more is raised than needed to buy the buildings.

They group says a community share offer allows residents to make an investment in a project that safeguards an iconic Stannington building and valued community facility.

The people who buy in will have a say in how the buildings are run, and holding shares will automatically make make those who buy them a member of the society which runs it, with each member having an equal say in decisions, regardless of the value of their shareholding, and a vote in an annual election of a management committee.

Each share is planned to be worth £1, although the fewest each person can buy is 100, and the most will be 15,000.

Anyone who puts in over £500 would have their name on a plaque in the building.

Stannington Brass band have used the venue as their bandroom for 10 years – and they are among the organisations fighting to keep it in community use.

They are doing their bit with a fundraising concert next month.

Proceeds from the band’s concert at Lomas Hall, Stannington, on Saturday, December 4 will go to the purchase fund.

Phil Attrill, the band’s chairman, said: “We hope the community will get behind Action for Knowle Top to save the former chapel and schoolroom for everyone to use. We want to remain in our base in the heart of Stannington and see the buildings used for many more events and activities.”

The concert starts at 7.30pm. Tickets are £8, £6.50 concessions and £3 for under 16s. Call 0114 233 2821 or email [email protected]

Email [email protected] or call 07890 990930 to get involved.

You can donate online via a crowdfunding website.