Friday 21st September
There will be no more updates on this site.
Click here to see more information about any of these events:
19:30 - 23:00
11:00 - 13:00
This site is no longer active or maintained. It exists as historical record of the hard work that went into saving the hall. For updates please visit westgatehall.org or follow us on Facebook.
The Westgate Community Trust aims to preserve, refurbish and manage the Westgate Hall to serve the needs and interests of the present and future residents of Canterbury and its districts. In the process it aims to strengthen community spirit. It is nonpolitical. All are welcome.
The Trust constituted itself as a community group on 4th March 2010, within a few days of Canterbury City Council voting to demolish the building. Given the grim economy with the need to reduce services the Council decided it could no longer justify the cost of maintaining the 100-year-old former drill hall.
The Trust's founding members had met on the Save the Westgate Hall, Canterbury Facebook page. Created in the months preceding the Council's vote, it was a forum for the community to express its frustration at potentially losing part of Canterbury's military heritage, as well as a unique community venue, to create parking spaces.
The negative decision did not deter the Trust's founders: they continued to believe the Hall had an important role to play in Canterbury's community life. This conviction spurred them to meet the Council officers responsible for the building. Apprehension about how their suggestion would be met disappeared when the officers encouraged the Trust to produce a business plan. They had three weeks.
By focusing on saving the Hall for the community, the Trust's plan persuaded Councillors to continue funding it until summer 2011 to give the Trust time to produce a second business plan. The Council's challenge to the Trust: the plan should prove the Hall would not need Council funding and that it would be financially self-sustaining were the Council to grant the Trust a lease.
Months of consultation with Canterbury's community (residents and representatives of the public, private and voluntary sectors), events at the Hall (such as The Big Lunch and Curry & Quiz) and with local businesses (such as our wine challenges) raised the Trust's profile, increasing both awareness of and support for its efforts. During this period the Trust also developed its partnership with Corinthian Curzon/Curzon Cinemas, securing its financial support. Against a capital sum to refurbish the drill hall side of the Westgate Hall complex the Trust would sub-lease the two-storey conference side to Curzon for conversion into a three-screen art house cinema.
Thanks to huge community generosity and engagement demonstrated at events and through the TrustŐs consultation, the dedication of Council officers who were unfailingly supportive in guiding the Trust through the process of developing its business plans and corporate partnership with Corinthian Curzon the Trust was able to meet the Council's criteria.
On 27th July 2011, convinced by its proposal to transform the Westgate Hall into Canterbury's 'village hall', the Council Executive awarded the Trust a 99-year lease. The Trust and Council are currently finalizing its terms. The Trust and Curzon plan to open a refurbished Hall and new cinema in summer/autumn 2012.
If you have a moment, here are two visions of how this project came into being and has evolved: a documentary (12m 27s) by a UKC film student about the Trust and its efforts to Save Westgate Hall, and this collection of pictures (4m 25s) of key moments in the Trust's life so far set to music by one of our members.
Please join us!