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Expansion plans for Framwellgate Moor community centre
VOLUNTEERS poised to take over running a community centre have announced plans to expand and improve the facility.
Framwellgate Moor Community Association has reached an agreement in principle with Durham County Council, which owns Framwellgate Moor Community Centre, in Durham City, on a new 30-year peppercorn-rent lease, which is expected to be signed early next year.
The deal would see the association take over maintaining and repairing the Victorian former schoolhouse and, crucially, allow it to apply for more external funding.
Association chairman Colin Hillary said: “It will give us more opportunity to determine our own future.
“It gives us more scope to be creative and meet the community’s demands.
“Those who use it would see it as a great loss (were it to close). There is a need here.”
The U-shaped Front Street building, which dates from 1877 and has been a community centre since 1969, has three large halls, one smaller hall, a kitchen, toilets and a former headteacher’s house, which is rented out as offices.
Centre users include Tai Chi, carpet bowling, country dancing and ballroom dancing groups and Tin Arts, a children’s dance company.
However, the facility is thought to need about £285,000-worth of repairs and heating improvements. Local county councillors and the parish council have already made pledges but donations and fundraising ideas would be welcomed.
The centre also suffers from its inaccessible layout and high ceilings and is dependent on grant funding to survive.
Association leaders hope to reconfigure the building and make it self-sustaining.
Early plans have been drawn up to build a link corridor, open a community and Internet cafe, create more storage space, lower hall ceilings, add demountable hall partitions and move the disabled toilets.
The cost of such work is not yet known.
Members of the public are invited to comment on the plans when they go on display in the centre’s main hall on Friday, November 15, from 2pm to 6pm.
In summer 2011, the county council included the centre on a list of community buildings earmarked to receive no further funding.
However, the number of users increased and the facility was given a reprieve – being moved to a list of buildings set for investment.
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