Lottery fund for community assets

Lottery fund for community assets 

Nick Loney,
Regeneration & Renewal

A fund to help communities build or improve assets such as village halls will be launched next year by National Lottery good causes distributor the Big Lottery Fund.

The BLF’s new Community Buildings Programme will make £50 million available over three years to projects across England. It is aimed at helping community-based groups create or improve buildings in order to offer activities to local people.

Funding from the programme will be used to pay for capital costs associated with building or improving community assets, but the activities that take place within buildings will be key to funding decisions. Typical beneficiaries could include groups that need space for public meetings, parent and toddler groups, and organisations offering fitness facilities, recreation activities, arts projects, skills training and social events, the BLF said.

Sir Clive Booth, chair of the BLF, said: ‘Community buildings act as a focal point and are key to promoting community cohesion. There is a need for more and better community-owned venues that complement state-owned facilities and encourage more activities to take place within them.’

A spokesman for the BLF said that it has not yet been decided which groups will be eligible for funding from the Community Buildings Programme, but it is thought that it might be suitable for organisations such as development trusts or single regeneration budget partnerships.

Development trusts seek to build or take ownership of physical assets such as community halls, sports facilities or industrial space, which they then use to generate revenue to fund services for the community.

However, despite the recent growth in the number and size of development trusts operating, many in the sector feel they are unfairly excluded from mainstream grant programmes such as Futurebuilders.

Iain Tuckett, director of development trust Coin Street Community Builders, which owns and manages several assets along London’s South Bank, welcomed the announcement. He said: ‘There is a definite shortage of community-owned buildings, largely because local authorities are under such pressure financially and this isn’t seen as a statutory requirement.’

But Tuckett warned that £50 million over three years would be a ‘drop in the ocean’ and appealed for more funds to boost community ownership of assets.

Source: Regeneration & Renewal magazine