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KILMARNOCK ROAD CENTRE: Building to continue being a host for community needs

KILMARNOCK ROAD CENTRE: Building to continue being a host for community needs

Image: LDRS

Councillors have backed plans to ensure a well-used community building continues to host a range of services to meet the needs of Hartlepool residents for years to come.

Hartlepool Borough Council Finance and Policy Committee approved the community asset transfer of the Kilmarnock Road Resource Centre at its latest meeting.

This enables not-for-profit organisations to deliver their own solutions to local needs and demands for services at the site on a long term basis.

The council owns the premises located on the corner of Kilmarnock Road and Owton Manor Lane, currently known as Kilmarnock Road Children & Young People Family Resource Centre.

The property was formerly let to Manor Residents Association as a community centre on a 20 year lease from November 2002 at £1 per annum and has been used to support residents in the community ever since, under various names.

The premises are currently used for various purposes including a community café, pre-school nursery, youth club and playgroup.

The centre also provides a free advice service covering matters such as personal/family problems, debt/welfare benefits, back to work calculations, disability and preparation for tribunals and appeals.

Beverley Bearne, council assistant director of development and growth, told councillors the community asset transfer would ensure the site is used to benefit the community for years to come.

She said: “This property has been used for community uses in excess of 20 years already and it is currently performing pretty well offering a number of community based support services, and the nursery operating out of there has received a good Ofsted rating back in 2017.

“This is a recognised means of enabling not for profit organisations to deliver their own solutions for local needs and services and complies with the policy adopted by councils set out in the community asset transfer documents.

“Assuming that we do receive acceptable tenders we will offer a lease which will be granted and will include a requirement for restrictions around community uses.”

Council officers said letting the building under a community asset transfer arrangement will mean that a potential rental income or sale value will be foregone, however services provided to the community are maintained.

Cllr Christopher Akers-Belcher noted under the Localism Act the council may be able to avoid going out to tender on the site due to it already having an occupant, meaning they could make an application for the transfer under the act.

Chris Little, council director of resources and development, said they would check if this was possible following the meeting, and would carry this out if they were able to, otherwise they would go through the six-week tendering process as required.

The move was unanimously backed by all councillors on the committee.

Words: Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporter

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