Big Lottery Fund to give £50m in community buildings grants

Mathew Little

Community buildings such as village halls are to benefit from a new £50m programme from the Big Lottery Fund.

The grants stream will support new buildings or improvements to old ones and will be available from 2006. It will be part of the demand-led funding stream within the fund's new programmes.

"There is an established need for more and better community-owned venues that complement state-owned facilities, such as libraries and extended schools," said Sir Clive Booth, chairman of the fund.

The buildings could be used for meetings, parent and toddler groups, fitness, arts or social events, according to the fund.

The Community Fund has awarded more than £138m to community buildings since 1995, but it was feared the Big Lottery Fund would stop supporting them.

"It's a fund we fought for," said David Tyler, chief executive of community sector umbrella body Community Matters. "We encouraged our members to make their voices heard on this. The lottery had no plans for a community buildings fund of any kind. But to give it credit, the fund has come up with some sensible proposals."

More funds for buildings could result from the report made by an Office of the Deputy Prime Minister taskforce on how to minimise the impact on the voluntary sector of the loss of the Single Regeneration Budget.

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