From school to community hub

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Communities Convener, Councillor Donald Morrison welcomed Housing and Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess MSP to see the work to convert the former Eastgate School in Friockheim into a community hub.

The hub will provide business units for rent, a fitness suite, sports hall and meeting rooms. Three new affordable homes for rent are also being built, by the council, on adjacent land not required for the community hub.

The council is working with the community to transfer the building to local community ownership. The community asset transfer plans were agreed in principle in 2013 and Friockheim Community Hub Ltd was set up to progress local plans for the development. A recommendation for final approval of the transfer will be considered by the communities committee on March 1, 2016.

Communities Convener, Councillor Donald Morrison said: “We are committed to community asset transfers that will bring benefits to communities. We recognise that community asset transfer can be a valuable part of supporting and sustaining local communities in Angus and we want to ensure council assets can be leased on long leases or on occasion owned and managed by the people who regularly use them.

“This project highlights the ambition of a community to take a key local building and transform it into a valued resource that could serve generations to come. I am delighted that the housing and welfare minister has taken time to visit the project and witness the effort and ambition of the council and local residents at first hand.”

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said: “We are taking every opportunity to help boost the number of affordable homes across the country, and the redevelopment of this site is a great example of what can be achieved when partners come together in collaboration.

“Not only is this project bringing back to life existing buildings, but it demonstrates real engagement, local decision making and community empowerment, and I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to have seen the outcome for myself today.”

Mr Pond, chairman of FCH said: “If the communities committee grants final approval for the asset transfer, this community centre will in time become the beating heart of the village – offering facilities, resources and space to the people of Friockheim and the surrounding rural area.

“Once completed, it will be a facility for all ages, offering a focal point for business and leisure, sports and functions. It has been a great benefit for us as a community-based group to have the support and expertise of Angus Council to assist us in bringing this project to fruition.”