Former church becomes village shop

A FORMER church building will be turned into a village shop thanks to a community assets fund.

The Ilmington Community Shop initiative in Warwickshire is among six community projects to receive funding to save a local building or asset.

It will receive £135,000 as a contribution towards the purchase and refurbishment costs of a church building no longer used as a place of worship.

The building will be converted into a viable community centre consisting of a shop and café.

The shop will also serve as an informal meeting place particularly in the summer as it is regularly visited by cyclists and walkers passing through.

Local residents believe the venture will bring social, economic and environmental benefits to the area and will also be of particular benefit to residents who find walking difficult.

The other five projects include a Grade II* listed lido and a former stable block which will either reopen to the public or see their existing use transformed.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said the funding would pay for repairs, refurbishment and create local jobs.

Each community asset will receive between £130,000 and £440,000 from a £3.4m DCLG community assets fund, managed by the Social Investment Business Group.

Further allocations from the fund will be made later this year (2014).

Communities minister Stephen Williams said: "Local people and communities know best how they want to run things, from setting up neighbourhood plans deciding on new development to taking over local services."

The funding would help the six schemes get off the ground, said Mr Williams.

"Not only will they provide leisure, cultural and care facilities for the future, they will also create local jobs, helping to build both a stronger economy and a fairer society."

Communities thinking of taking on a building or other asset of community value can visit My Community Rights for detailed information on other sources of funding.

Alternatively, they can visit Just Act, run by the Community Development Foundation, for insight and peer support to help community enterprises at every stage.

Another rural initiative will see a Grade II* listed former bank purchased, ensuring the sustainability of a community arts centre in the Suffolk market town of Eye.

The latest round of funding brings the total funding under the community assets fund programme to £21 million since 2012.

More than 700 local organisations from across England have now taken the first step towards ensuring that buildings like their local pub are not sold off and lost to the community.

The total number of uses of the rights has now hit 3,000, with more than 1,500 buildings, assets and green spaces listed and 1,200 neighbourhood plans well underway.


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