Community businesses on list for latest round of levelling-up cash

Historic community pub the Vale of Aeron and co-op public space Stretford Hall are among those supported through the Community Ownership Fund

Community businesses – including a historic Welsh pub frequented by Dylan Thomas and a large public venue in Manchester –  have been included in the latest round of the government’s Community Ownership Fund.

The round of funding will distribute more than £12.3m across 45 voluntary organisations and community groups.

These include the Vale of Aeron pub in Ystrad Aeron, Wales, a favourite haunt of poet Dylan Thomas, which has been given £300,000 for renovations to keep it open and make it accessible to the whole community.

After its lease expired, the pub was saved by a community share offer in 2021. Now, the grant will help the community renovate the building, make it more accessible, install better heating facilities and make the community enterprise sustainable.

The Vale of Aeron pub

Other community pub projects included in the round of funds include the Henry Jenkins in Kirkby Malzeard, North Yorks, which receives £330,000 towards the campaign to buy and refurbish the site. Locals have been campaigning to save the pub and run it as a community business and in February celebrated after the government rejected a planning appeal by its part owner, who wanted a change of use. The community pub group plans to restore the disused site with capital from share issues, government grants and low interest loans.

Another North Yorks. community group looking to revive a much-loved local is Skelton-on-Ure Pub and Hub, who receive £300,000 towards their campaign to bring back the Black Lion.

Other co-op projects to benefit include Friends of Stretford Public Hall, a community led not-for-profit organisation formed in 2013 to breathe new life into the Greater Manchester building. The grant will allow the group to carry out urgent building repairs and improve energy efficiency.

In Scotland, the Aero Space Scientific Educational Trust receives £300,000 towards a new centre designed to inspire young people to pursue aerospace-related jobs in science, technology, engineering and maths. The project will be based at the trust’s Station House building in Kinross.

Gargunnock Community Shop, near Stirling, received £253,032 as locals rally to restore the building after a fire two years ago. They have submitted plans to Stirling Council which include re-roofing, new render, new access slabs, an air source heat pump and solar array, as well as new windows and doors.

A number of community interest companies have also recieved funds, including intoBodmin, a community arts group in Cornwall which has bought the town’s Old Library Building and is now renovating it with a “focus on making the building warm, watertight and welcoming, as well as reducing its carbon footprint and running costs. The overall facilities will be improved, and energy efficient lighting and heating systems installed – including solar panels donated by Clean Earth.”

The Other Perspective CIC, which provides support services and activities to refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants of all ages in the north east of England, receives £300,000.

Holton Pits CIC in Suffolk receives £133,000 as it works to purchase a quarry site as a community open space and natural habitat, working with local schools and conservation groups.

Moor Imagination Collective CIC, which wants to set up a creative community space at Buckfastleigh Methodist Church in Devon. The CIC, which has registered the church, built in 1835, as a community asset, receives £205,000 towards its efforts.

Levelling Up minister Jacob Young said: “Our priority is to support communities and deliver opportunities right across the country, which is why we’re investing £12.3m to secure the future of cherished community institutions. These places are the golden thread which run through our social fabric, and keeping them going is vital for supporting communities.”

The Community Ownership Fund, which has now given £49.3m for 195 projects across the UK, is open again for bids and will close on 11 October 2023, and groups are being urged to apply for up to £2m in funding for the very first time.

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