Since The George Café in Newnham closed its doors in April 2018 we’ve been campaigning to buy the building for the village and re-establish it as a community hub. Here’s the story so far.
The George Café in Newnham is owned by Camphill Village Trust (CVT), a nationwide charity providing residential care for adults with special needs. Originally created to offer employment for nearby Camphill residents, The George was a much-loved and well-used local venue for many years, but gradually fell into decline, mainly as a result of changed priorities within CVT.
In early 2018, CVT announced that it would be closing the café. Worried about the impact on the village, a group of us decided it was time to act. After campaigning successfully for it to be registered as an Asset of Community Value we began to explore the possibility of buying it for the local community. In early 2019 we formed ourselves into a community benefit society (NoSCBS Ltd) and launched a campaign to raise £500,000 to turn The George into a multi-purpose social hub.
The Community Share Offer
With support from local people we raised nearly £150,000 in community shares. With additional money from grants, social investment loans and fundraising, we went on to make an offer of £350,000 for the building. Disappointingly, this was rejected by the vendors, and in September 2019 the property went on the open market for £400,000.
Since that time the building has remained empty and neglected, and the owners have shown very little inclination to drop the price. However, the Community Asset listing remains in place, and so far no other buyers have come forward.
The impact of Coronavirus
As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic our plans have now been revised and updated but our vision of the George as a welcoming, inclusive space in the heart of the village has not altered.
We still believe that The George could be a highly successful community business, and we are continuing to explore new ideas that could revitalise The George and make our community more resilient as we emerge from the pandemic.
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