Berwick Youth Project plan is welcomed by councillor

Plans to transfer ownership of the former community centre building on Palace Street East to Berwick Youth Project have been welcomed.

Tuesday, 25th September 2018, 8:48 am
Catherine Seymour

Northumberland County Council’s cabinet last week agreed the transfer so the youth project can deliver additional services.

Draft terms for the transfer can now be prepared, which means that Berwick Youth Project can submit applications for funding and planning permission.

The building has most recently been used by the council’s education team for community purposes and registrars, but is currently vacant and has fallen into disrepair.

Coun Catherine Seymour, member for Berwick North, took council leader Peter Jackson and Coun Richard Wearmouth, cabinet member for economic regeneration, on a site visit to demonstrate the need for urgent action.

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She said: “I was more than happy to give my support to the project and speak to my colleagues on the council to make it happen. We have managed to achieve a successful result and look forward to seeing the Berwick Youth project turn their exciting plans into action.”

Northumberland County Council holds the land at Palace Street East, including the Mansion House and Hall, as sole corporate trustee of an unregistered charity known as the Old Grammar School Foundation.

The property is held as part of the Foundation’s general endowment to be used as a school house, for which it was used until the 1940s/50s, and otherwise for the purposes of the Foundation.

The council is under a legal duty as a charity trustee to ensure the property is used to further the Foundation’s charitable purposes and must appoint an additional trustee – Mike Turner, head of property services.

Discussions have already been held with the Charity Commission over the possibility of transferring the property to the youth project.

A draft scheme has been prepared with the aim of aligning Berwick Youth Project’s objectives to the Trust’s objectives and while this has been approved by the Charity Commission, a formal submission is yet to be made.

Berwick Youth Project proposes to refurbish and reopen the community facilities, and in addition, create residential facilities for up to six young people living independently for the first time.

The property served as Berwick Grammar School from 1860 until 1939. After the school relocated to Lovaine Terrace, the building was used by the council as a Youth and Community Centre until its doors closed in August 2015.