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Caroline Lucas Blog : 4 October 2013

Recently I’ve been hearing from constituents concerned about a particular aspect of the Council’s proposals to develop and improve the Pavilion estate

These proposals are at the consultation stage and a bid will go to the Heritage Lottery Fund – whose funding is needed to put them into action – next month.

The controversial point is that a community facility in the estate may be demolished.[expand title=”SHOW MORE” swaptitle=”SHOW LESS”]

This community facility is the Pavilion Gardens Cafe, a venue that’s hugely popular with visitors and locals alike.

It’s a place that I love too as it’s a great venue to meet friends, or just sit for a while.

Council representatives say they’ve consulted with the cafe’s proprietor David Sewell throughout, and the estate development could include bigger cafe premises with cloakrooms, perhaps a box office and the possibility of extended and year-round opening.

Yet a bigger, notionally “better” cafe isn’t what David nor the local community as represented by the North Laine Community Association actually want.

While David of course wants to see the Pavilion estate be successful, he also recognises that the cafe – the lease for which has been in his family for 70 years – is much more than an outlet for refreshments.

It’s an outlet that’s rooted in human as well as economic development, evolving over time in response to the needs of the community in which it’s located.

The cafe nourishes and provides a meeting point for a huge variety of people and groups.

For an illustration of this have a look on the cafe’s Facebook page.

This features this week’s gathering to mark Older People’s Day alongside photos from a visit by a Norwegian school band.

The Facebook page also highlights the cafe’s charity work, including support for the Mayor’s charities.

David Sewell, the North Laine Community Association, and the Friends group formed around the cafe are seeking to ensure that local resident and trader communities are fully included in plans for the place where they live and work.

I’ll be supporting them in ensuring their voices are heard.

I’ve already written to the Council to say I find it hard to believe that improvement plans rest solely on whether or not the cafe is relocated and I’m interested to know the extent to which officers have looked into proposals for leaving the cafe where it is.

I look forward to hearing the response.[/expand]