£845k lottery funding for new community centre

An artist's impression of how Bedlington Community Centre will look.
An artist's impression of how Bedlington Community Centre will look.

A community centre is celebrating after receiving one of the largest lottery grants awarded in Northumberland.

Trustees at East Bedlington Community Centre have been awarded £845,715 Big Lottery investment for new £1.3m community facilities in Bedlington Station.

The grant, awarded by Big Lottery Reaching Communities (Buildings), will ensure that work can start on renovating the former co-operative hall in Station Street, to include extending the existing facilities to three floors which will provide modern, accessible amenities for the whole community.

Chairman Ron Straughan said: “We are delighted to bring this investment to Bedlington Station.

“It is an incredible achievement for our team and we have worked hard alongside the community to make sure we are developing a fully accessible building to deliver the facilities the community want and a venue that will help bring people together.

“We have been supported throughout our campaign by East Bedlington Parish Council who have pledged £450,000 towards the scheme along with the Coalfield Industry Social Welfare Organisation (CISWO) who have pledged £48,500.”

The project will see the redevelopment of the lower floor to provide improved office accommodation, as well as public access IT facilities, refurbished kitchen and meeting space, new activity space for youth facilities and indoor bowls along with an eight-person passenger lift accessing all three floors.

The second floor will see the development of Platform 1 - a refurbished ballroom that will provide a multi-use space including community theatre and cinema, refurbishment of the existing stage and green room facilities along with a new licensed community café.

In addition there will be a new mezzanine level providing a seating/meeting area and addition storage and office accommodation.

When complete the project will create up to 7 new jobs as well as opportunities for volunteering and work experience.

East Bedlington Parish Council chairman, Alex Wallace, added: “We hope the redevelopment of this facility will act as a catalyst that will lead to further investment in the high street.

“It is an exciting time for East Bedlington with the potential reopening of the Ashington -Blyth-Tyne line.

“The parish council have fully supported the scheme and congratulate the trustees on their success.”

It is hoped that work to refurbish the Community Centre will start in early 2016 and will take around 28 weeks to complete.