Community centre in new fundraising bid to sell section of car park

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Lymington Community Centre
Lymington Community Centre members will vote in May on plans to sell part of the car park

ANOTHER attempt will be made by Lymington Community Centre to sell part of its car park to fund a £2m refurbishment scheme.

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A special general meeting will be called in May for community association members to vote on the idea, according to an update to the town council.

As reported in the A&T, an attempt to make a decision in June last year was aborted after so many people turned up they could not fit into the meeting at the centre’s Fuller McLellan Hall in New Street.

The plan proposed in 2019 was to sell a plot at the northern end of the car park, next to neighbouring Brunswick Place. The John Howlett craft building, described as “hazardous” by trustees, would be demolished to make room for replacement spaces.

The clock is ticking on the centre’s fundraising because when it secured a £900,000 grant from the town council in 2018 it came with the condition that it must match-fund the cash within four years.

There have been concerns that the slow pace of fundraising means that inflation and rising building costs are eating away at the spending power of the grant.

Lymington Centre
The queue for the meeting last year at the Lymington Centre went out the door

The May meeting was revealed in a report to the town council which included an update from Lymington Community Association (LCA) acting vice-chair Lucie Lewis.

She wrote: “The plan will set out our case for the substantial funding support required to redevelop the main building following planning approval.”

The town council has contributed £115,000 of the overall grant so far, the report said. At the last full meeting a further sum of £85,000 was released towards £170,000 of work to relocate the preschool to the Robert Hole Room. Another £70,000 was also agreed for a new lift.

The overall £900,000 town council grant came from its Buckland Farm Access Fund, a £1.7m pot secured in 2017 from a public land access deal with housebuilder Pennyfarthing for its Alexandra Road development in Buckland.

Disquiet was raised about the speed of the LCA’s fundraising in the report, which said councillors on the access fund subcommittee were “very concerned by slippage and the extended timescale” of the main project to rebuild the community centre.

But it added members were “pleased” about plans to sell of part of the car park to accelerate the match-funding effort.

The community centre was opened in 1948 and is now used by about 4,000 people a week. The refurbishment project was launched in 2018 as part of its 70th anniversary celebrations.

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