Witheridge Community Centre Task Group - Update

Last year, the Community Council of Devon carried out a review for the Parish Council of the facilities available in Witheridge, during which they consulted a range of groups which currently run community buildings or facilities in the village. As a result of this review, a Community Centre task group was formed specifically to consider the need for a new Community Centre for Witheridge and the surrounding area. This group consists of eight members - one representative from each of the following groups: parish hall committee, sports club, sports field management, school, pre-school, two from the parish council and a minute secretary.

The task group’s aim is to work with all sectors of the Witheridge community to achieve the provision of a modern social and sporting facility to serve a wide range of community groups including the elderly, children and adolescents, sporting and social organisations. Funding will be difficult in the current climate, but we believe we can find ways of achieving this.

The results of the survey in the last edition of the Witheridge Scene show that 235 out of 237 respondents were in favour of the project. These represented a wide range of ages and interests, and have given us a good indication of what people want from their future community centre. Many people also kindly offered help – we will be contacting them as the project develops.

We have now been successful in gaining support for the project from the Devon Reinvestment Service (DRS), which is a part of Devon County Council and provides practical support to community groups in Devon to develop community facilities. Devon Reinvestment Service works with just 8 to 10 large-scale projects at any one time, so we are fortunate that they have elected to work with the Witheridge community. During March/April, they will be helping us to put together an initial financial plan. This will involve looking at: priorities for the building design in terms of the facilities wanted by the community, initial estimates of building costs, possible sources of funding and likely revenue streams.

We are also seeking help with the costs of the development stage of the project from the government backed 'Community Builders' programme, and will be meeting with them in mid March. This fund, which is jointly run by Communities and Local Government and the Office of the Third Sector, is designed to help community-led organisations across England through a mixture of financial and advisory support.

We are gathering facts and figures in order to put together a presentation and consultation in the village hall, which will be an opportunity for everyone to participate in the decision making process. We want to be in a position to put a proposal based on all the advice we have received, and it is taking time to get together all the information we need to enable the Witheridge community to make a well-informed decision.

We have had informal advice from the North Devon Council planning department that the Sports field is the preferred site for the Community Centre from a planning viewpoint and the advice from our Devon County Council and other independent advisers is also that this site has the greatest potential.

Organisationally, it has been suggested by our advisers that, as an interim measure, the task group becomes a sub - committee of one of the existing charities involved, in order to access any available funding for expert assistance/research/training and generally enable us to move forward with preliminaries more quickly. When the community has decided on whether and how the project will move forward, there is the potential for a new, amalgamated charity to be formed from the current Parish Hall committee and the Sports field trustees, in order to ensure that there is a cohesive community body which can drive the project forward.

Stuart Cole and Mary Stanbury have been nominated as Chair and Vice Chair of the task group respectively, with the support of all those present at our most recent meeting - this will need to be ratified at the next meeting of the group.

Community Centre Task Group
March 2010

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Last Edited 17/03/2010    Copyright © 2000-2010 Witheridge

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