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Government completes Community Assets grants roll-out

The Government yesterday completed the roll-out of grants from its Community Assets scheme with £1 million awarded to Herefordshire Council to transform Leominster’s historic Grange Court into a new facility for local charities and community groups.

Yesterday’s final Community Assets grant sees a total investment of close to £30 million from the Office of the Third Sector in the Cabinet Office’s initiative to create, refurbish and expand local facilities for VCS organisations.

Angela Smith MP, Minister for the Third Sector, said: “The award to Herefordshire Council completes the roll-out of 37 Community Assets grants to create and rejuvenate community facilities across England. From a theatre in Stoke-on-Trent to the refurbishment of a new arts centre in Battersea, each of the funded projects will become tremendous assets for charities, community groups and most importantly local people.

“Our aim with Community Assets is to help to transfer assets from local councils to community and voluntary organisations for the benefit of the wider community. This investment is already paying off with new and improved facilities in Birtley, Ashfield, Hillingdon, Chester-le-Street and Skelmersdale already opening their doors for business.”

Herefordshire Council will use the £1 million grant to undertake a large scale refurbishment and extension to Grange Court, a Grade II listed former market house building in Leominster town centre. The award will see the carved black and white timber building, built in 1633 by the King's carpenter John Abel, continue to be used by and for the community.

Several local groups will benefit from new office space provided within the revamped premises and small meeting rooms will be available on an ad-hoc basis to other community organisations.

Herefordshire Council will transfer the freehold of the building to Leominster Area Regeneration Company Limited (LARC) leaving it in the hands of the local community.

Cllr Blackshaw, Cabinet member for Economic Development and Community Services commented: “This project will have significant community and economic benefit not just for Leominster but for the rest of the county at a time of economic recovery.  It demonstrates the value of community asset projects with the Council passing the ownership of an iconic building to local people, to maximise its future potential.  This project will preserve the heritage of Grange Court in addition to catering for the needs of local people, voluntary groups and local businesses.”

He continued: “Key to this project is the partnership approach between national funders, Herefordshire Council and Leominster Area Regeneration Company, who will deliver the future project.  Without all the partners working together it would have been impossible for the ambitions of local people to become a reality.”

The Government’s Community Assets programme, is funded by the Office of the Third Sector in the Cabinet Office and delivered by the Big Fund (BIG) (the non-Lottery funding operation of the Big Lottery Fund).

Through the scheme, grants from £166,755 to £1,948,924 are funding 37 projects across England to create state-of-the-art community facilities. The ownership and management of each of the buildings will be transferred from the local authority to community interest groups, leaving the day-to-day running in the hands of local communities.

The programme has seen a range of facilities receive funding, with some of the centres already open and serving their communities. From community theatres and arts centres, to youth centres and offices for local charities, each project provides much needed facilities for VCS organisations to better serve their communities. A full list of Community Assets awards can be found here

Sanjay Dighe, England Country Chair for the Big Lottery Fund, said: “BIG is proud to use its grant making expertise to deliver this innovative funding programme on behalf of the Government. Each project has demonstrated strong partnership working between local authorities and third sector organisations and the revamped facilities are creating a range of fantastic resources for local communities.

“By creating sustainable community buildings the aim is to bring long term changes for a wide variety of groups and to benefit both local communities and the third sector organisations that take charge of the facilities.”  

Further Information

Big Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours contact: 07867 500 572
Public Enquiries Line: 08454 102030
Textphone:  0845 6021 659

Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

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