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February 11, 2009

Borders group has the Midas touch

Last year, we reported on a community trust, working across a string of small villages and farm settlements in Peeblesshire, with an ambitious plan to build a £1.9m multi- purpose community facility. Last spring, they secured £1m in Big Lottery Funding and only last month the community heard that they had been awarded a further £858,000 under the Scottish Rural Development Priorities Scheme


A rural community in the Scottish Borders has been awarded £858,000 under the Scottish Rural Development Priorities Scheme to create a much needed community facility in Romanno Bridge. Newlands Community Development Trust (NCDT); has designed a sustainable community facility to meet local service needs and allow community groups and local enterprise to flourish. This is the first award under this scheme to a community group of this type which aims to reverse the decline in local rural facilities in their area.

The new building, which will be attached to Newlands Primary School, will be a standalone operation owned and run by NCDT for the benefit of the whole community. Located in the geographic centre of the area, the facility will provide a focal point for local people, comprising a large sports hall, a fully equipped kitchen with dining areas, a dedicated nursery and playgroup, plus adult learning, IT and library facilities.

In spring 2008, NCDT received £999,363 from BIG Lottery fund in support of this project which has an estimated total project cost of £1.9 Million.

“We have now raised enough money to proceed to the next phase of the project which will hopefully see the building start to take shape later in the year,” said Karen Blissitt, chairman of NCDT. “The community has been very patient and supportive as we have worked hard to raise the money for this facility and it is great news for everybody that it is now closer to becoming a reality. NCDT would like to thank BIG Lottery Fund and Scottish Rural Development Priorities for supporting this project and for their recognition of the importance to Scotland of rural communities.”

Sue Unwin, Treasurer/Director of the trust, added: “I am absolutely delighted that all of our efforts in getting this project off the ground have been recognised in the awarding of this European funding grant and we are grateful to those bodies for recognising the potential of what we are seeking to achieve. It’s a massive achievement and will prove to be a major asset to the local community.

Maureen Sharp, Headmistress of Newlands Primary School is also delighted with the success of the NCDT application to Scottish Rural Priorities, she said “Everyone at Newlands Primary School is delighted that Newlands Community Development Trust has been successful in their funding bid. The members of the Trust have worked very hard to ensure that our lively and vibrant community has a great, and much needed community facility. This facility will, like our school, be at the heart of the community. We very much look forward to working with them to take the project forward.”

The use of the facility by the school, which will rent the hall for various needs, will provide a source of revenue to help NCDT ensure long term viability of the project.

For further information, contact:
Karen Blissitt (NCDT chairman): 01721 752615
John Currie (NCDT secretary): 01721 752638


NCDT was formed in June 2007 to benefit the diverse rural communities of Newlands, Lamancha and Kirkurd in Peeblesshire, in the Scottish Borders. These communities, which incorporate a string of villages along the A701, including Blyth Bridge, Romanno Bridge, Mountain Cross and Lamancha, together with farms and smaller settlements, have witnessed a steady decline in facilities in recent years. NCDT is working to reverse this trend by developing new assets which will promote sustainable regeneration of the community. The community lacks sporting facilities and a hall large enough to hold its major events while also providing the flexibility to support a full range of activities for both old and young. At present, members of the community commonly need to travel ten miles to reach such facilities. One in four people served by the new hub will be in walking distance of it. NCDT gained charitable status in April 2008 and is working with Big Lottery Fund, Scottish Borders Council and now the Scottish Executive to achieve its aims.