Community Assets Programme
Posted on Friday, May 23, 2008
Community Assets programme announces shortlist of schemes to reach final assessment
07 April 2008
The Community Assets programme has announced the shortlist of schemes to reach final assessment. The programme, which is funded by the Office of the Third Sector and delivered by the Big Lottery Fund, is a programme to enable third sector organisations to have greater control over the assets they use, such as community buildings.
The shortlisted organisations to receive ‘in principle’ grant offers will now have up to six months to develop detailed plans for spending their grant and present them to BIG for a non competitive assessment.
From listed buildings in urban areas to small village halls, the projects, working across England, will refurbish and renovate derelict buildings and expand existing community centres to create multi-use community facilities offering new activities for local groups.
Amongst others, the facilities to be offered by the shortlisted schemes include, healthy eating and keep fit services, and cutting edge theatre and art facilities.
The refurbishments will mean new décor for dilapidated buildings, better disabled access, new cafes and kitchens, more flexible use of spaces and greater accessibility to the whole community. Some projects aim to be exemplars for energy efficiency.
The successful applicants are planning for financial sustainability through rents, contracts for delivery of services, and partnerships with local authorities that are demonstrating their commitment to community spaces by offering peppercorn rents, ranging from £1 per year for 125 years.
One organisation receiving an in principle offeris Birtley Community Partnership in Gateshead that needs funding to create an information resource and a drop-in centre. Formed in 2002, it works closely with Gateshead Council on town centre regeneration and other joint projects.
Ian Caddy, Birtley Community Partnership Chairperson, said:
“There is a distinct lack of meeting space for local community groups, and accommodation for welfare agencies to deliver services required by wider community. The Birtley Community Hub is the answer to all this.
“It will provide facilities for an active Credit Union (Birtley was badly hit by the Fairpack disaster), a safe and confidential area for the North East Council for Addictions, it will offer information on health, environment and welfare, provide space for family learning groups and ICT classes for older people. Planned cultural events will bring local communities together, reducing disadvantage and working towards a more inclusive society.
“The Hub will be a continuation of strong partnership working and will cater for the needs of not only the third sector organisations but carry on the links forged with the town’s businesses."
Phil Hope, Minister for the Third Sector, said:
“I am pleased that the Community Assets programme has proven to be so popular across the country. The projects that have reached this stage of the application process are, without exception, of an extremely high standard and I would like to take this opportunity to wish them well in the remaining stages.
"All the successful projects work at the hearts of their communities providing varied and imaginative services. I am glad that the Community Assets programme will provide them with the funds to develop a high quality asset that will have long term benefits. These assets will benefit the organisation and the communities they serve and I look forward to visiting some of them in the future."
Sanjay Dighe, the England Country Chair for the Big Lottery Fund, added:
“The projects that have been successful in this very competitive assessment process demonstrated strong partnership working between local authorities and third sector organisations.
“By creating sustainable community resources they aim to bring long term changes for a wide variety of groups and benefit both local communities and the third sector organisations that will take charge of the facilities.
“Community Assets is the first non-lottery funding programme delivered by BIG and we are delighted by the enthusiastic response of local groups."
The programme’s overall aim is community empowerment. It aims to achieve this by facilitating the transfer of genuine assets from local authorities to third sector organisations for their use as community resources. It offers grants of between £150,000 and £1 million for refurbishment of local authority buildings, including community centres and other multi-purpose facilities.