This week, we would like to congratulate a rural parish in County Durham on a significant recent achievement. Through an enormous amount of hard work and with tenacity and determination, Cornsay Parish Council has secured funding to complete a project that will have a profound and lasting impact on its community.
Cornsay Parish Council serves a largely rural area, concentrated around two small villages and a housing estate linked to a larger former colliery village, has a precept of around £11,000 per year and a population of just over 1000 people.
The Council has just been successful in a bid for £483,348 from the Big Lottery Fund to build a brand new, fit-for-purpose community venue to serve the parish and surrounding areas. The current building, opened in 1963, is a wooden prefab and was intended to accommodate community activities until a brick building could be constructed. 52 years later, that is about to happen.
In recent years the current building has become increasing expensive to repair and maintain. Heating costs are high and because of the design of the building, facilities on offer are limited and basic.
Closure of the centre was narrowly averted in 2013 when high winds severely damaged the roof. Emergency repairs were made but the incident highlighted the extremely poor condition of the structure.
Having already undertaken several community consultation exercises, the Council had decided that the best option was to rebuild. Plans and designs had been drawn up, but the estimated cost of over £500,000 presented something of a challenge. Funding from Durham County Council and County Durham Community Foundation, together with the Council’s own funds started the ball rolling but the Big Lottery was the only funder offering grants of the size required. Despite rejection of the first bid, the Council persevered and developed a stronger, more detailed application. The process has taken almost three years to come to fruition and has required a phenomenal amount of work by the Council and clerk, much of which we understand was new to everyone involved.
A detailed business plan, prepared by the Councillors and Clerk demonstrated to the Lottery the difference that a new community building would make and that it could be operated on a more commercial basis to ensure sustainability into the future.
Chair of the Council, Barbara Armstrong, said “It’s been a long, hard road to this funding award. We have been working on this since 2008 and it’s absolutely marvellous that the Big Lottery Fund have recognised the merits of our project. This is an amazing result for our community and will make an unbelievable difference.”
NALC is delighted to be able to congratulate and celebrate the council’s achievement. This is a fine example of what can be achieved by a hardworking and dedicated team – and a team that remains focussed in the face of challenges.