Our new Home – update 1

Thursday, August 23

Welcome to the first update regarding news about our Community’s new home.  This will be a feature of the weekly emails and Kehila magazines, and we intend to keep all members fully informed as the project develops.

This first update provides 10 key points below that recap the information provided at the meeting on Sunday 12th August and addresses some of the points raised at the meeting. We will return to both in subsequent updates.

    1. Current position: the Property Working Group has identified a site that meets the brief agreed at our three Synagogue AGMs, and is in contract negotiations with a Developer. This is the culmination of over 7 years of work.  We are excited that this is a great location for our new home and that the building significantly exceeds the minimum specification we looked for.
    2. Confidentiality: It should be noted that contracts have not yet been signed and the deal is not finalised – part of the reason for holding the meeting was to identify any concerns that need to be addressed in these negotiations. As the deal is not signed we are bound by commercial sensitivities about some aspects of the deal…
    3. The key numbers: Our new home is over 20% larger than the minimum specification agreed at the AGMs, it can accommodate over 450 people in a variety of configurations such as:
      • 1 large space for 450 people, or
      • up to 6 prayer spaces for 50-90 people in each + a kiddush space, or
      • 10-12 classrooms for Religion School, or
      • 250 attendee service plus 2-3 services for 40-60 people, plus a kiddush space, or
      • 200 people seated at tables (for our and potential other events)
        This flexibility and scale is beyond what we can accommodate at Bessborough Road
    4. Location: The location, between Stanmore and Bushey, is easily reachable for the majority of our members, and in close proximity to prospective new members in the growing Jewish areas of Bushey and beyond.  The address is commercially sensitive so we are not at liberty to disclose it at this time, however we can say that it is within the area highlighted on the map.  We recognise that the location is not ideal for all of our existing members – more on this in point 9 below.
      Our new Home will be supplied ready for us to move in.
      There will be 9 flats on 2 floors above our New Home.
    5. Security: We are working with the Developer, our solicitors and the CST (Community Security Trust) to address any security concerns arising from this arrangement – noting that we are not the first Synagogue Community to have such an arrangement.
    6. Parking: we will have 10 car spaces for our use on site.   There is space immediately outside for drop-off.  We are seeking creative solutions to provide more parking:  On street parking is readily available nearby, some unrestricted, some not 2-4pm.  We will seek to negotiate spaces at businesses close by (as we have at the Harrovian Business Centre in Harrow).  If all of these are available then we will have space for over 100 cars nearby.  We will also look to extend our existing schemes to offer lift sharing and taxi / minibus services.
    7. The contracts: are subject to achieving planning approval on both sites. Bessborough Road will be exchanged for:
      • A new Ground Floor Community centre built to our specification, plus
      • An interest free loan facility to cover transaction and other costs once planning is approved, plus
      • 1 studio apartment to sell (repay above loan & provide funds to invest in community development), plus
      • 10 Car parking Spaces (also for us to use for a Sukkah, Hamakom play area…)
      • A 250 year lease at a “peppercorn” rent
    8. Interim period: We will need to vacate Bessborough Road into temporary accommodation while the new building is being built. We expect this to be for a period of 9-12 months.  We have already identified a number of options and potential locations that we will seek to negotiate access to once timescales are clear.  We believe that, while this is a serious challenge, this also gives us exciting opportunities to try out new ways of working that we may want to adopt in our new Home, and also to occasionally try out locations that may help us attract new members.We will, of course, ensure that the whole Community will function effectively during this interim period, with a particular focus on looking after elderly & vulnerable members.
    9. Project teams: We are looking for members to get involved in project teams to make this exciting opportunity a reality:
      • The overall design and specification of our new home
      • Planning our relocation in the interim before our new Home is ready
      • Communications and Marketing (to our members, in support of planning, and to prospective new members)
      • Developing new concepts and ideas for Mosaic – activities, events, new types of services… This team will also look at a number of ideas for how we support members who are South / West of Harrow who will find it more difficult to get to our new location.
      • Contributing and raising funds for our “at risk” costs at this stage, and for décor and other items in our new home.
    10. Get involved: If you would like to get involved or have any questions or comments then please email us