£3.5m to convert pub to Bobov community centre

By Marcus Dysch, January 28, 2010

A strictly Orthodox community which hopes to turn a former pub into a centre for social and religious activities is aiming to raise £3.5million to complete the project.

Work is yet to begin on the conversion of The Swan more than a year after the building was bought by Stamford Hill’s Bobov community and four months after planning permission was granted by Hackney Council.

Once alterations are completed the centre will include prayer rooms, an extensive library — expected to be the biggest of its kind in Stamford Hill — offices, conference facilities and a hall for charity fundraising events.

Bobov representative and project manager Solomon Goldman confirmed efforts are now being stepped up to secure the funds needed to complete the centre, which will be called Clapton Community Hub. It is hoped it will be open during 2012.

He admitted the economic climate means it is “not easy” to raise the money to complete the project, but pledges totalling “a few hundred thousand pounds” have already been received.

“We want people to understand this is for the whole community. We have had very positive feedback so far,” said Mr Goldman.

The Bobov community, which is affiliated to the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, has faced major obstacles to the proposals, including from pub regulars who fought a lengthy Save the Swan campaign, arguments with a rival Bobov faction and Polish squatters who occupied the building after the pub closed.

The local Belz community is still working on converting the former British Oak pub, which it bought in 2002, into a £1m yeshivah complex.

Last updated: 4:40pm, January 28 2010