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Devonport Guildhall to be transformed with £1m grant

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South West England
Community Assets
Release date:
23 3 2009

The Grade I listed Devonport Guildhall is set to be transformed following confirmation of a major £1million Community Assets Government grant resulting in the creation of a high quality creative and cultural community meeting venue and offices spaces in a heavily built up area of Plymouth.

Plymouth City Council (PCC) will transfer the community assets to the Real Ideas Organisation Community Interest Company (RiO) on a 25-year lease as part of the agreement for use by at least 14 community organisations.

Devonport Guildhall is just one of dozens of projects across the country to receive a Community Assets grant, funded by the Office of the Third Sector in the Cabinet Office and delivered by BIG Fund, the non-Lottery funding operation of the Big Lottery Fund.

The £1million grant will be used to create a creative and cultural centre rooted in the community and link a number of related community and voluntary groups together. Currently the building has very limited use with just one counselling group and a small library using it. Roughly 80 per cent of the building is empty and unused at present.

Real Ideas Organisation Community Interest Company has worked closely with Plymouth City Council including researching the needs of groups and individuals in the area as part of the planning of the project. The research had shown that there was a lack of meeting rooms and office space for small community groups in the town, with several having to be located out of town, hindering their ability to fully meet the needs of their beneficiaries.

Councillor Glenn Jordan, Cabinet member for Healthy Communities and Leisure and Plymouth City Council's heritage champion, said: “Devonport Guildhall is an incredible building which has a rich past. Thanks to this funding and the Real Ideas Organisation, it now has an exciting future as well. Huge changes are underway to change the face of Devonport. It is apt that such an iconic building, which is at the heart of this neighbourhood, will play a key role in inspiring young people of all ages. I can’t wait to see all the ideas become reality!”

Kevin Brennan MP, Minister for the Third Sector, said, “The Government is investing £30 million across the country into excellent community projects such as Devonport Guildhall. Facilities such as these are much needed by voluntary and community groups, particularly during these challenging economic times when people are increasing calling on community support.”

Mark Cotton, BIG’s Head of Region for the South West said, “The refurbishment of Devonport Guildhall will enable the community to develop appropriate and accessible facilities which will offer a focal point for the community in this regeneration area. “

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

Notes to Editors

  • Community Assets is a non-Lottery programme funded by the Office of the Third Sector in the Cabinet Office.
  • The Big Fund is the non-Lottery funding operation of the Big Lottery Fund.
  • The Big Lottery Fund (BIG) 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. BIG has been appointed to distributed around £30 million of Government funding through Community Assets
  • 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:

  1. Local third sector organisations have greater security and independence, and are better able to meet the needs of the communities they serve.
  2. Communities have more access to better facilities that respond to their needs.
  3. 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:

  1. Holiday play facilities and activities for parents and pre-school children
  2. Facilities for young people providing alternative education services, evening coffee bar, leisure facilities, professional advice and guidance, anti-gun and knife crime events
  3. GP referrals, healthy eating service, facilities offering keep fit classes, group wellbeing activities, a wheelchair service, therapy and rehabilitation services
  4. Adult education, training courses, addiction assistance, ICT facilities and employment opportunities in deprived areas
  5. Lunch clubs and tea dances for the elderly
  6. Theatre events, rehearsal space, music facilities, venues for music events, creative arts groups and experimental art exhibitions
  7. Meeting rooms, office services and facilities for smaller local groups including BME communities
  8. Workshops, training rooms and support to local business start-ups
  9. New tourism and leisure destinations

  • The Office of the Third Sector was formed (OTS) 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: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/third_sector.
  • From 30 March to 23 June 2007 the Office of the Third Sector ran a public consultation on how Community Assets will 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 last year in the Pre-Budget Report (6 December 2006).
  • http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/communities/makingassetswork