On Thursday this week, local Welsh Assembly Member and Leader of the Welsh Lib Dems Kirsty Williams came to Knighton especially to talk with Karen Plant and Dominique Jones about the Community centre Management Committee's current applications for grant funding to assist in the major regeneration of the centre (dubbed The Big Ren by committee fundraiser Dominique). Kirsty also had a preview of the exhibition on the plans which was set up for public viewing at Saturday's town Show and Carnival. Kirsty very happily gave her wholehearted support for this effort on the part of the Community Centre's band of volunteers to contribute to the regeneration of this area.
Knighton Community Centre this month cleared a major hurdle in its bid to establish sustainability into the future and to fund the improvements necessary to turn the centre into a lively and inviting “community hub” for the town and surrounding region. Many in the local community will be aware that the centre’s financial situation has been precarious for years, with urgently needed repairs to the roof and the mounting cost of maintenance and energy bills adding to the troubles faced by the small group of local volunteers who make up the management committee.
Now, after months of hard work by the management committee, and in particular its funding coordinator Dominique Jones, full grant applications have been submitted to the Big Lottery and the Welsh Assembly’s Community Facilities and Activity Programme, which between them could provide £800,000 towards the cost of a major makeover for the facility as well as the employment of a Project Manager and Administrator to oversee the changes.
As part of the process leading to these applications, a feasibility study has been carried out in recent months by South Wales-based Community Development Consultant Mel Witherden who has analysed responses from a huge number of interviews with local people, as well as questionnaires circulated in the community. His aims were to establish the local community’s attitudes to the centre, local needs and how the Community Centre might have to change to have a viable future. His findings and recommendations have now been published and have been central to the business plan underpinning the current funding applications and development plans.
Powys County Council has been onboard throughout the process, having agreed to take on the cost of roof repairs once a viable business plan was produced to take the centre into the future. PCC have agreed to take responsibility for the much-needed roof repairs and meet certain other running costs . PCC has also provided greatly appreciated support by appointing architects to draw up plans for exciting changes to the current buildings which will make the management committee’s vision of the centre as a “Community Hub” become a reality.
Dominique Jones, while relaxing after her efforts producing the grant applications to a very tight deadline, knows that much more hard work lies ahead if the ambitious plans are to be realized. Chairperson of the Management Committee Karen Plant stresses that “If this regeneration plan is not successful the Centre’s future existence is in doubt. It can no longer limp on as it has done”. She and Dominique are meeting next week with Kirsty Williams AM to show her at first hand the problems keeping the present building open and the ambitious proposals for its future, in the hope of securing her support.
Meanwhile anyone interested in finding out more about proposals should come along to the Centre’s wine and soft drinks bar in the Reynolds Room on Knighton Show and Carnival Day when a display on the topic, including architect’s drawings, will be on view.
And if you really want to know more, here's the entire business plan to download.