Creetown get £137,000 regeneration money for village hall

Waverley Hall
Waverley Hall

Creetown Initiative Ltd have received a £137,000 grant to improve the village’s Waverly Hall.

The money comes from a £1.7 million Scottish Government fund set up to help communities across Scotland revitalise their areas, Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil announced on Monday.

Creetown Initiative is pleased to announce that we have been successful in our application for funding to the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Communities Capital Fund. The £137,000 funding will be used (along with other funding) to refurbish and bring back into use the Waverley Hall in Creetown.

The Town Centre Communities Capital Fund is a £1.7 million was set up to help communities across Scotland re-vitalise their areas. The announcement was made on Monday that 21 town centre groups have been successful in their applications to deliver capital projects. Creetown Initiative’s award is the only one in Dumfries & Galloway. The £1.7m Town Centre Communities Capital Fund was open to community organisations and will support capital projects which will make real and lasting improvements to town centres across Scotland. It will help enterprising communities to further unlock the potential of public assets in town centres, improve amenity and first impressions of an area.

Chris Hanna, project worker at Creetown Initiative said: “We are delighted that the Scottish Government recognised how important this project is to our community and supported our application. Whilst the fund is called a Town Centre fund the Scottish Government also considered applications which related to local main streets in villages, where a case can be made that these areas are recognised to be at the heart of the community, which gave us the opportunity to apply.”

The Waverley Hall, a council owned building, has prime location on the main street in Creetown and has been used by many different community groups and local businesses over the past 60 years. Like all councils across Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway Council was pressed to find ways to reduce its budget. In August 2012, the Council was forced to close the building and it has stood empty ever since.

The closure of the Waverley Hall has meant that many local groups and organisations have had to find alternative premises. In some cases alternative locations do not suit the needs of all groups which has meant certain activities and events in Creetown have stopped altogether.

The community were very concerned about the closure of the building and asked the Initiative to look into acquiring the hall and managing for the benefit of the village. A community consultation was carried out and of the responses, 93.2 per cent of the community supported the idea.

The Council has agreed that if the community, through Creetown Initiative, took over the Waverley Hall, they would transfer ownership for a nominal fee of £1. The cost for renovation works is around £185,000. This will include works to roof, replacement windows, a disabled toilet, new kitchen facilities, refurbished toilets, insulation to the roof and walls and redecoration.

Creetown Initiative has also received donations totalling £6,500 from small Scottish charitable trusts towards the project.

The Hall will operate on a non-profit making basis. The main purpose of the building is to provide amenities for the local community, encourage community involvement and social inclusion. As such, the prices that the Hall charges to these groups will be low and affordable. The building will be run by a management group made from representatives of the various user groups.

Senior Projects Manager of Creetown Initiative, Andrew Ward said: “The success of this project is very important to the community of Creetown. The Waverley Hall is a long used village asset which is now sitting vacant and the condition of which is deteriorating. Ongoing lack of use and maintenance will drastically affect the state of the building and will mean that the costs to repair and renovate at a future date would be substantially more. The renovation and bringing back into use will increase the opportunities for the whole community.”

The Cabinet Secretary revealed offers have gone out to 21 town centre groups which will help communities deliver capital projects.

Mr Neil said: “I’m delighted to be able to announce this support for community organisations across Scotland. The £1.7 million fund will give enterprising communities the chance to take forward improvements to their area that complement our Town Centre Action Plan.

“By giving community organisations the opportunities to take action we can help make town centres the attractive and accessible thriving places we know they can be.

But the Labour group of Dumfries and Galloway Council was critical of the Scootish Government after onnly Cretown recived funding. They said the region has been “left with the scraps” of the funding designed to aid with town centre regeneration.

Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray said: “This is just another example of Dumfries & Galloway being left with the scraps of Scottish Government funding. Town centres across our region are a long way away from what local people expect to see. Obviously it doesn’t help with being a short journey from retail giants in cities out with the region. The struggle is going to be looking for innovative ways to draw people back to our town centres, but that can only be delivered with sufficient and fair funding from the Scottish Government.”

Dumfries & Galloway Council Leader Ronnie Nicholson said: “The Council are doing everything we can with our restricted budget to help start-up businesses and community projects in our town centres through grants and advice. However it’s clear that the Scottish Government don’t have the same commitment, and see our regions town centres as a low priority compared with the rest of Scotland. Unless they match their rhetoric with the necessary funding, it will be a real struggle to get vacant shops and derelict buildings back into use, and return our town centres back to their former glory.”