Seventeen community buildings including a football stadium, cinema and pubs as well as open spaces such as a park and nature reserve are today (30 January 2014) benefitting from a £5.5 million government boost to help them reopen to the public or improve their existing use.
Announcing this funding at the Bridewell Island site in Bristol that is due to be turned into a new youth centre, Minister for Communities Stephen Williams said:
Right across the country people are taking control of how their community is run, from setting up neighbourhood plans deciding on new development in the area to taking over local services. I want to go further still and the money announced today will help 17 treasured community assets provide leisure and cultural facilities for the future. It will also create jobs for local people, helping to build both a stronger economy and a fairer society.
These buildings and sites across England are all valued community assets, and today’s funding will pay for repairs, refurbishment and create local jobs.
Each community asset will receive between £100,000 and £500,000 from a £5.5 million Department for Communities and Local Government community assets fund, managed by the Social Investment Business Group. This brings total funding under the programme to £12 million since 2012. A further £3.5 million will be available later this year. Today’s funding is part of government’s ‘Community Rights’ programme to give more power to local communities and people, which includes neighbourhood planning powers, community asset listings, and community budgets.
So far around 1,500 uses have been made of community rights including nearly 700 areas designated for neighbourhood planning and over 750 ‘assets of community value’ listed, giving local people a 6 month window to put together a purchase bid in the event the owner wants to sell the asset. Assets listed so far include 250 pubs and 140 parks and playing fields.
Stephen Williams added:
For far too long the government in Westminster sought to dictate every aspect of local life but we are bringing this to an end and handing back power to local people and communities who know best how they want to run things. The helping hand we are offering today will help these schemes get off the ground and provide inspiration for other communities to follow suit.
Community assets benefiting from the funding include a disused bakery in Anfield that will reopen as a social enterprise and housing project, the King’s Arms pub in Shouldham, West Norfolk, which will be bought by the community and refurbished, and the Bexhill Playhouse cinema with the aim of bringing it back into use.
Caroline Forster, Group Investment Director at the Social Investment Business said:
We are delighted to be able to support innovative and ambitious community enterprises that are playing a big part in growing their local social economies across England. These grants are helping communities become more entrepreneurial and more confident champions of local interest. Our grants also bring in additional investment from a wide range of funders and investors helping to scale impact quickly and sustainably. We hope that other local organisations will be inspired by our investees.