The first publicly owned building to be transferred into community ownership under the Government's £30m Community Assets Programme has opened its doors.
The Birtley Community Partnership, a community group in Birtley, Tyne & Wear, received £167,000 to convert a former library into the Birtley Community Hub. The building will provide office accommodation for charities and community groups, a meeting centre for the community and a café.
The property has been transferred to the group by Gateshead Council on a 99-year lease and on a peppercorn rent.
BCP will also use the building as a permanent base, along with more than 30 other organisations including the local credit union, Cestra, the local Citizens Advice bureau and the North East Council of Addictions.
Ian Caddy, Birtley Community Hub project leader, said: "This could not have come at a better time for Birtley. We will be able to deliver help, support and hope not only to the local community and businesses but also to the surrounding area."
Another 37 projects being funded by the scheme are expected to be finished by 2011.