VOLUNTEERS are set to be granted a new 25 year lease on their base to allow them to access more than £100,000 in grant funding.

Hyndburn Voluntary & Community Resource Centre Ltd’s current lease on the old St James school building in Cannon Street, Accrington, is set to expire in September 2024.

But they have asked Hyndburn Council to grant a new 25-year lease so they can satisfy conditions attached to a £165,708 grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

The new lease is set to be approved at a Hyndburn Council cabinet meeting next week.

Helen McCue-Melling, the council’s regeneration and property manager, said: “ This lease will assist HVCRC to satisfy conditions of the grant offer from BLF by enabling BLF to be provided with a satisfactory certificate of title from their solicitor, together with a completed deed of dedication and evidence that a restriction on the title of the land and buildings has been registered in favour of BLF.

“HVCRC will be expected to deliver building works comprising new, modern and accessible facilities, including new kitchens and toilets, redecoration and replacement of internal doors throughout, in addition to an automated door entry system at the main entrance of the building.

“This work aims to increase the number of activities and services, and number of people attending them, who are elderly, disabled and indeed all members of the community, thus improving community cohesion, health and wellbeing and reducing social exclusion.

“The current lease is for a period of 10 years from September 2014.

“All previous leases including the current one were granted subject to the tenant paying a nominal peppercorn rental. The lease will include a user clause which stipulates that the building should be used as a community resource centre in accordance with the tenant company’s charitable objectives.”

The grant offer is also conditional on BLF approving a business plan which is currently being put together.

The lease will include a full repair and maintenance clause and the council expects that cash derived from the activities will be reinvested into the building for maintenance and repairs, including those identified in a recent condition survey of the building, and are not dependant the grant.

In 2017 HVCRC reported to BLF a surplus of £29,018.

Ms McCue-Melling added: "The building could be used as offices with a potential annual rental income of £25,000.

However, there is currently a surplus of office accommodation in the borough and therefore this income is not guaranteed.

"There is already a surplus of vacant buildings in the town centre and the current proposal supports the council’s policy to transfer under used assets to suitable community groups.

"The building could be opened up to other community groups, but the council has not been approached by others to manage this building.

"In addition the current tenant has a good track record of providing community based activities and services from this building.

"Another group may not have the same success rate.

"The new 25 year lease is a prerequisite of the BLF providing £165,708 to HVCRC which will be used to upgrade the building and facilities.

"Not providing the lease will jeopardise this funding opportunity and HVCRC would then be unlikely to be able to afford to carry out these improvements.

"To charge market rent for the building could mean the tenant does not enter a new lease, the BLF funding opportunity would be lost and vital services could cease."