Community Assets programme launched

A £30m fund has been launched to help third sector organisations to refurbish local authority buildings such as community centres.

The Community Assets programme, which is funded by the Office of the Third Sector and administered by the Big Lottery Fund, is intended to facilitate the transfer of community assets to third sector ownership or control.

Grants of between £150,000 and £1m are available, and the Big Lottery Fund is holding nine regional seminars in England to explain the aims of the programme and the application process.

Phil Hope, minister for the third sector, said: “This is a real opportunity for community groups and local authorities to transform assets such as community centres and other buildings into more vibrant and valuable resources for the whole community.”

In April, the Department of Communities and Local Government published an action plan on the transfer of council-owned assets to community groups and set aside £400,000 to facilitate the transfer of 40 assets in 20 local authority pilot areas, including Tower Hamlets, Cumbria and Peterborough.

The assets that might be transferred include community centres, town halls, car parks and swimming pools. Local authorities have been given the legal right to sell assets at “less than best value” if transfer will improve environmental or social wellbeing.

There will be a single bidding round, closing on 15 November, for applications for the Community Assets programme. The Big Lottery Fund has said it welcomes applications from partnerships between local authorities and third sector organisations.

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