Community centre efforts are stepped up
Berwick Youth Project has stepped up its efforts to secure the future of the former Community Centre premises in Palace Street East.
It 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.
Northumberland County Council are the corporate trustees of the property, used as a youth and community centre until August 2015.
Berwick Youth Project made a formal application to the council to take on the challenge of renovating the building in May 2015.
“The fact that the council are not the owners of the building, but hold the building as a charity trustee, is fundamental to making progress,” explained John Bell, youth project manager.
“However, with the help of our MP, Anne-Marie Trevelyan and the Charity Commission, we think there’s a willingness to move things on as quickly as possible.
“Unfortunately, its taken almost three years to reach this point, with the property steadily deteriorating.
“It was always going to be an expensive initiative to take on, as it’s a Grade II listed building. Renovation work has to be sympathetic but, ultimately, we need a building that’s going to be as efficient as possible to run. Our architects have come up with plans that will cost around £1million to implement but will bring it back to life and ensure it serves a very useful purpose.”
Berwick Youth Project hopes that the Heritage Lottery Fund will consider a major grant toward the restoration and is seeking support to make the best possible case.
John said: “We’d like to hear from any individuals and groups who would be interested in using the restored facilities, as we need to make the case that there is a need for it. I know just how busy the Community Centre has been in the past, but unfortunately that counts for nothing and we need to show its relevance to this generation. We’d also like to hear from older members of the community who might have attended school there, or have a special interest in the buildings heritage.”
The youth project has established a Facebook page under ‘Berwick Community Centre’ and correspondence can be sent to email@example.com and 10 Golden Square, Berwick.