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St Luke’s Community Centre

The editor visits St Luke’s Community Centre in Central Street and finds much of interest for Barbican residents, particularly those on the northern side of the Estate

The old building was a relic of a

1980 refurbishment with false ceilings, artex walls, hidden windows, awkward circulation routes and failing lifts, toilets and services. The construction project was phased

The St Luke’s Community Centre main building at 90 Central Street


ne suspects that most Barbican residents will be well aware of the old Parish church of St. Luke’s, the Thomas

Hawksmoor edifice which stands on Old Street at the north end of Whitecross Street. While the church itself has been closed as a place of worship and is now an offshoot concert venue for the London Symphony Orchestra, many residents may not be aware of the St Luke’s Community Centre, just a short way north of the old church on Central Street. It offers a tremendous range of facilities and activities which some Barbican residents may be entitled to use as the northern part of the Barbican Estate is close enough to the old St. Luke’s parish boundaries for some discretionary membership allowance. The Community Centre is run by St

Luke's Trust, an old and well- established charity dating back centuries and which serves the community living around it comprising, the London Borough of Islington's ward of Bunhill, small pockets of Hackney, Clerkenwell and the City of London. Often it works outside these ancient boundaries where it has secured external funding and the work


fits in with everything else the Trust does. At the Centre itself, although many of the activities and facilities are aimed at older people, there is also much appropriate to younger residents of the area too.

The Community Centre Refurbishment In 2007 St Luke's started the process of becoming a community centre that reached out to the whole community, rather than just those over 55 years old.

The new focus attracted many new

people through its doors, but it was soon clear that the appearance, layout and fabric of the community centre building presented significant problems that limited its full potential. The Trustees asked people in the area what they wanted to see in a new centre and embarked on a £2.5m refurbishment in January 2011. Having carried out a full options

study and feasibility analysis in 2008 and 2009, in December 2009, the Board of Trustees decided that the strategic direction for St Luke's was to move forward with a major project to refit, extend and refurbish the existing community centre building at 90 Central Street.

so as to allow the community centre to remain open to the public for activities during the building works. Phase 1 involved work to the existing building, installing new lifts, updating electrics, water and heating systems. The main kitchen was relocated to create a new dining area and conference room. A cookery classroom for all ages was provided. Rooms on upper floors were completely refurbished, and part of the roof spaces used as extra community space. Phase 1a was a later addition to the

works and completed the centre with a completely new Reception and main entrance, a new online centre and home for Help on Your Doorstep. The old dining room became the Garden Room and is now a high tech conference facility for local charities and other groups. The final phase is re-providing

modern toilets on the ground floor and more activity and creche space. Most importantly a new street front community cafe and restaurant will be built where the existing ground floor toilet block is located. Disruption to the existing centre should be minimal as it is all extensions and new buildings. Phases 1 and 1a had a total cost

approaching £3m, including professional fees. A grant of £660,000 was received from EC1 New Deal for Communities, supplemented by a £50,000 grant from the City Bridge Trust. The remainder of the cost was borne by St Luke's using reserves it had built up over decades. Using the charity's reserves in this

way, as well as choosing to maintain normal operations during the lead up and throughout the building works, has meant that it needs to put its

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