Big Lottery Fund
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The people of Chester-le-Street are the first to take charge of a community centre under the Government’s £30 million Community Assets programme. Dozens of similar projects up and down the country will see community sites taken over, refurbished and maintained by the local people who will actually use them.

The Pelton Fell Community Resource Centre in Chester-le-Street will benefit from a £337,000 grant, the first to be awarded under the Community Assets scheme funded by the Office of the Third Sector in the Cabinet Office and delivered by the Big Lottery Fund.

In April this year, the project was one of 38 to be short-listed for potential funding from the £30 million programme to enable voluntary and community organisations to have greater control over the community assets they use.

The £337,000 Community Assets grant confirmed today, will fund part of a £937,000 partnership between Chester-Le-Street District Council and Pelton Fell Community Group. Work will start this autumn continuing through to summer 2009 to refurbish and extend the Pelton Fell Community Resource Centre. Over 3,000 people in Pelton Fell and neighbouring areas plus around 30 community organisations will benefit from the refurbished centre.

The Pelton Fell Community Group will manage the community centre which will bring a new lease of life to the area. Locals will take a brave step forward into the world of social enterprise including cultivating new community interests, a community café sports bar and multi-use games area (MUGA) to deliver the priorities identified by local residents. Facilities will include toddler, youth and older people’s clubs plus history and environmental interest groups, art in the community and offices for use by groups such as the neighbourhood regeneration partnership. The asset will be transferred via a 99-year lease for a peppercorn rent.

Kevin Brennan MP, Minister for the Third Sector said, “I am delighted to confirm that the Pelton Fell Community Group is the first Community Assets grant to be awarded. The strong partnership between the Group and the Council will ensure a smooth transfer of the building to the local community so that they can use it to run the projects they know they need.

He continued, “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. Pelton Fell is a great first example of how this can be done.”

Linda Ebbatson, Leader of Chester-Le-Street District Council and Roy Templeman, Chief Executive said, “We are absolutely delighted to receive news of the Community Assets grant to enable the local community and the Council to move forward with the regeneration of the heart of Pelton Fell. This follows a tremendous amount of hard work by the local community, by ward councillor Steve Barr, cabinet member Chris Jukes, and Council officers, among others as a whole in developing the community centre project which has now been supported by the Office of the Third Sector.

Linda and Roy continued, “The community centre is the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle in regenerating the village of Pelton Fell which has been an example of how local authorities and communities can work together to produce sustainable regeneration of an area in which people live.”

James Turner, North East Head of Region at the Big Lottery Fund commented, “I think it’s great news that the first Community Assets grant in the whole country has been awarded to the North East and to Pelton Fell, in particular. The Pelton Fell Community Group and Chester-Le-Street District Council have developed a great partnership, which will ultimately benefit everyone who lives in the local area through this first-class community centre.

James continued, “BIG is delighted to work with the project team as Pelton Fell becomes the first place to benefit from a Community Assets grant from the Office of the Third Sector.“

Big Lottery 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: 

Notes to Editors

Community Assets is a non-Lottery programme funded by the Office of the Third Sector in the Cabinet Office.

• The Big Lottery Fund distributes lottery funding to health education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. It also uses its expertise in grant-giving to distribute non-lottery funding.

• Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website:

• The aim of Community Assets is community empowerment. It will do this by facilitating the transfer of genuine assets from local authorities to the third sector for the benefit of the community. Community Assets will bring about the following outcomes:

o Local third sector organisations have greater security and independence, and are better able to meet the needs of the communities they serve.
o Communities have more access to better facilities that respond to their needs.
o There is more effective partnership working between local authorities and the third sector.

• The range of activities to be offered by the recipients of Community Assets in principle grants includes:
 Holiday play facilities and activities for parents and pre-school children
 Facilities for young people providing alternative education services, evening coffee bar, leisure facilities, professional advice and guidance, anti-gun and knife crime events
 GP referrals, healthy eating service, facilities offering keep fit classes, group wellbeing activities, a wheelchair service, therapy and rehabilitation services
 Adult education, training courses, addiction assistance, ICT facilities and employment opportunities in deprived areas
 Lunch clubs and tea dances for the elderly
 Theatre events, rehearsal space, music facilities, venues for music events, creative arts groups and experimental art exhibitions
 Meeting rooms, office services and facilities for smaller local groups including BME communities
 Workshops, training rooms and support to local business start-ups
 New tourism and leisure destinations

• The Office of the Third Sector (OTS) was formed in May 2006 in recognition of the increasingly important role the third sector plays in both society and the economy. It aims to drive forward the Government's role in supporting a thriving third sector, and join up sector-related work across government:

• From 30 March to 23 June 2007 the Office of the Third Sector ran a public consultation on how Community Assets would work. A wide range of local authorities and third sector organisations responded to the consultation. The Office of the Third Sector summarised the responses and explained how they will influence the final programme on 10 August 2007.

• The Community Assets fund was first proposed in the Pre-Budget Report (6 December 2006). The issue of asset transfer was also addressed by Barry Quirk, the Chief Executive of the London Borough of Lewisham, in his Review of Community Management and Ownership of Public Assets. 

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