The Arkell Bequest, from the will of Frank Arkell, Town Mayor from 1980 - 1982, provided £300,000 to start a fund to construct and fit out the centre. This sum was critical in obtaining a grant of £224,000 from the European Agricultural Fund for European Development 2007-2013: Europe investing in rural areas. This funding project is delivered through the South West of England Regional Development Agency with Defra as the Managing Authority. This proved to be a “once in a generation opportunity” as this funding source closed in 2011.
Redrow Homes set up their Sales Office on the site. When sales were completed Redrow sold the temporary building to the Town Council for £1. This was used as a temporary community centre from November 2009 to November 2010. It provided meeting space for 30 people in a single room with a small kitchen and toilets. It quickly achieved 33% occupancy, the County average for village halls, and confirmed the Town Council’s belief that a community centre in this location would be well used. The temporary building was dismantled and given to the Stroud Door Project for use in their youth work.
Further funding of £10,000 came from the Gloucestershire Environmental Trust from landfill tax contributions donated by Cory Environmental making a total of £534,000. The Town Council sought a loan from the Public Works Loans Board to provide working capital to enable the development to proceed. This was required because the EU and GET monies were paid on completion of the relevant work, leaving a gap between when the contractor had to be paid and receiving the grant.
Snape Construction was appointed after a formal tendering process to build the Centre.
Subsequently, Stroud District Council granted £7,800 for an external soft play area and planting; and local residents purchased ‘bricks’ and made contributions of £1,000 through the shop in Lawnside, thereby increasing the funding available towards the total cost. Throughout the process the Town Council has paid for the consultation, the feasibility studies, the initial designs and the legal work, from its own resources.
To satisfy the charitable objects of the Arkell Trust, the Town Council established a Charity, with the Town Council as sole trustee, to build and own the centre. The freehold ownership of the site has been transferred to the charity.
Most importantly, this building is not just about providing rooms to hire. We want it to be a great place for people of all ages to meet up for fun and to learn new things. We want it to become the centre of the community.