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May 6, 2009

Glasgow Leads the Way

The spread of community buyouts to an urban context took a major step forward recently with the decision of Glasgow City Council to transfer the ownership of several landmark properties to community groups. £2m of lottery funding will be shared by the first 3 developments – including the historic Maryhill Burgh Halls

Gerry Braiden, The Herald

Grassroots groups are to share almost £2m in a groundbreaking scheme by the Big Lottery and Scotland’s largest local authority to promote community ownership and redevelop city landmarks.

It is hoped the move by Glasgow City Council to hand over land assets, one of the first examples of community buy-outs in an urban context, will be replicated throughout Scotland and pave the way for urban development.

Three projects will share £1,989,126 of the Big Lottery’s Growing Community Assets scheme, including the historic Maryhill Burgh Halls in the north of Glasgow, Whiteinch Centre in the west of the city, and Milnbank Housing Association in Dennistoun.

The community-led drive to restore the Burgh Halls receives £980,910, the grant going towards internal refurbishment and a new extension to the building, which lies in one of Glasgow’s most deprived communities.

The council owns the building but will sell it to Maryhill Burgh Halls Trust and give them back the money in the form of a grant.

Once restored, the historic building will be a community events and concert space, as well as a nursery, cafe and recording studio, helping the community to generate income and become more sustainable in the long term. Milnbank Housing Association will use £900,000 to build a community-owned nursery as part of the regeneration of the former Great Eastern Hotel in Dennistoun.

This will offer 75 childcare places, 19 of which will be subsidised for lone parents and low-income families. Whiteinch Centre is currently leased from the council, with the authority now agreeing to transfer ownership of the asset to the centre. The group is receiving £116,092 towards the salary costs of a regeneration manager and centre administrator who will take forward plans to develop more community services.

Big Lottery Fund Scotland director Dharmendra Kanani said: “Should other public bodies follow the lead of Glasgow, this would create even more opportunities for communities to benefit from the surge in community ownership.”

Steven Purcell, leader of the council, said: “The Big Lottery’s announcement represents a fantastic contribution to community life in Glasgow and I’m delighted it is able to support these projects.”

Billy McAllister, chairman of Maryhill Burgh Halls Trust, added: “So far, more than five years of hard work has been put into developing proposals for the project.

“This is a project where the local people of this community are firmly in the driving seat and in charge.”