THE Lymington Centre is considering selling off part of its car park to raise funds for a £2m-plus improvement plan.
The 40-space area, off Cannon Street, is located behind the popular facility and, with its easy access to the high street, could be an attractive site to a developer.
If it goes ahead, it will contribute to the ambitious refurbishment scheme at the centre which was founded in 1946 and is now used by about 5,000 people a week.
The facility took a big stride towards its target this year with a £900,000 grant from the town council’s £1.7m windfall fund secured in a public land access deal with housebuilder Pennyfarthing for its development in Alexandra Road at Buckland.
But that investment is dependent on match-funding – which money from the car park would help to provide.
In October the Lymington Community Association (LCA), which runs the facility, elected Cllr Anna Rostand as chair, taking over from Ann Jarman.
Cllr Rostand said: “The Lymington Community Association is at a historic crossroads as after 70 years of offering our facilities to the community of Lymington and Pennington, we will shortly be in a position to upgrade, modernise and redevelop the centre.
“For us to raise the money a number of fundraising approaches are being targeted. These will include a fundraising strategy based on local and national fundraising, trust applications and the consideration of redevelopment of part of the car park and centre site.
“The pressure is on to respond rapidly to the council’s generous support at a time of exceptionally high competition for public funds.”
The election of Cllr Rostand, who is a Conservative town and district councillor, coincided with resignations by two LCA trustees, Nigel Lang and Emma Jolly.
They declined to give their reasons publicly, but Mr Lang said in a statement to the A&T: “Both our reasons for doing so were communicated in writing to the LCA chair, Mrs Anna Rostand. I have no further comment to make.”
Cllr Rostand is also deputy chair of the town council’s policy and resources committee, which oversees the authority’s purse-strings, including grant-giving, under the chairmanship of Cllr Alan Penson.
Cllr Rostand added: “Current and past trustees at the Lymington Association have been pleased to be working to provide the necessary upgrade to the community centre facilities.
“Some trustees have chosen to move on and we are very grateful for their time, effort and contribution.
“The new and existing members of the board have a wide set of skills and experience to enable us to take the community centre forward to meet the future needs of the community.”
According to documents lodged with the Charity Commission, in the year to June 2017 the centre’s income was £436,100 and expenditure £451,800. It has just over 80 volunteers helping to run it.