It is with great regret that Knighton and District Community Centre Committee, a registered charity, has to announce that it has been unsuccessful in the final stage application to the Big Lottery Fund to finance the transformation of Knighton and District Community Centre into a community hub to better meet the needs of the local community and to provide the town with an excitingly redesigned venue.
The fact that the Big Lottery had already supported the Committee with a grant last year to allow it to work with architects to design the scheme and get planning permission makes the latest decision even more disappointing.
The project, which the committee has been working towards since 2010, had already secured conditional funding of £500,000 from the Welsh Assembly towards the full costs, as well as £100,000 from Powys County Council to replace the building’s roof. Although these are substantial sums of money, they are nowhere near what is needed to achieve the vision of one venue where most of the services the community needs can be centrally located, so that provision of services is coordinated - and not lost to the community altogether, which is the fear of many at this time of austerity and spending cuts.
The building has had little investment since it was built in 1982 and is in need of a complete overhaul to improve energy efficiency, ensure it meets compliance and is viable long into the future.
The bid also included funding for much needed staffing because the centre is currently run almost entirely by hard-pressed volunteers and costs almost £2,500 per month just to keep the doors open.
The Chair of the Committee, Karen Plant, stated ‘This news is devastating. Our main concern now is, in the short term, to ensure we explore all options on behalf of the community and the many users of the Centre who rely on us week after week to keep the doors open, while ensuring that any public money spent is used to best effect.’
This is an unfortunate, heartbreaking outcome after many years of hard work. However the Committee has pledged to work with its existing funding partners and the professional build team to see whether a contingency plan is salvageable.
Karen Plant went on to say ‘The people of Knighton and surrounding district cannot be under any illusion about the future of the Centre and the crisis we find ourselves in. For some of us this is a seven-day-a-week voluntary commitment to keeping the place open, a situation which is unsustainable. The Big Lottery decision is an added blow for Knighton following recent announcements about other public services – some of which we were planning to co-locate in the renovated building.’