Newlands Community Development Trust
Facts & Figures
When in 2003 Newlands Primary School was threatened with closure, a parents group worked to convince the Council to save the school. The group was also concerned for the wellbeing of their rural community: isolation, distance from facilities and services, and a lack of employment opportunities, all impact significantly on the quality of life there. In 2007 the Trust was formed to develop a stronger sense of community and to improve general wellbeing in the area. Funding was secured from The Big Lottery and the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) to build a community centre adjacent to the local primary school. The centre opened in 2011, since when the Newlands Activity Centre has been at the heart of the community. In 2013 Scottish Borders Council transferred ownership of the old Newlands Memorial Hall to NCDT to use for the benefit of the community.
Company Limited by guarantee with charitable status
NCDT aims to become self-sufficient by hiring out facilities/renting space and providing community activities within a community hub – see ‘physical hub’ below. Scottish Borders Council is an anchor tenant as we provide a kitchen and dining facilities to the school, as well as the gym and football pitch, during school term.
see ‘physical hub’ below.
Value of assets
Roots & Links
In 2003 Newlands Primary School was threatened with closure. A parents group worked to convince the Council to save the school. The group was also concerned for the wellbeing of their rural community: isolation, distance from facilities and services, and a lack of employment opportunities, all impact significantly on the quality of life there. In 2007 the Trust was formed to develop a stronger sense of community and to work to improve general wellbeing in the area.
The Trust has a Board of nine elected Directors and three co-opted Directors. Local people become members giving them voting rights at the AGM.
- A local membership – 180 currently
- Newlands Primary School
- The existing community hub in Lamancha
- Newlands and Kirkurd Community Council
- Newlands and Kirkurd WRI.
- Local uniformed groups
- Village Halls Federation
- Newlands Memorial Hall – Rural Business Units
- Scottish Borders Council
- The Big Lottery Fund
- The Scotland Rural Development Programme
- The Robertson Trust
- The Postcode Lottery
- Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund
The Trust has developed a business plan for a modern, multi-purpose community and leisure centre. This hub is in Romanno Bridge, next to Newlands Primary School, and is run as a self-sufficient enterprise. It serves the whole community, providing:
- a large hall for sports and events
- a nursery and playgroup
- kitchen with dining area that can cater for weddings and so on
- adult learning/ IT facilities
- a new football pitch.
A full time member of staff manages the centre along with cover by several part time resources, and other jobs have been created in childcare and catering through the facilities offered.
Builds Local Capacity
The Board and supporters are developing their skills and confidence as they take the project forward.
See ‘physical hub’ above for services offered.
- an existing hub at Lamancha – see ‘community links’ above – includes a community centre with rooms for hire, a café and library, but being a smaller venue leads to complementary activities rather than competition.
- the Trust runs community events and provides a facility for local groups that require space from which to conduct their activities, and supports other local and school events.
NCDT is now in the process of securing title to the old Newlands Memorial Hall which is being gifted to us to provide benefit for the community through generating income from it in a new venture. Early stage discussions are ongoing to understand the need in the local area for small business/crafts units, the rental from which will go towards supporting and subsidising other community groups.
Securing significant funding from two bodies, the Scotland Rural Development Programme and the Big Lottery Fund: the SRDP recently extended its scope to cover community and other rural projects as it’s key function had been to support agricultural and fisheries projects only. NCDT was one of the first community projects to come on board. Further significant funding was awarded from the Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.
Securing the support and partnership of the Scottish Borders Council: persuading SBC that this was worthwhile and to come on board with us and transfer the land to us. It’s the first time they’ve gone into partnership with a community group; a unanimous decision by the Council. There’s also been a Parliamentary minute noting this innovative approach.
Clearing each hurdle has been a massive challenge: first securing funding and then the land. Now we’ve delivered on what we’ve promised we would do – a fully functioning community facility that delivers services across the whole demographic. It’s an amazing achievement for a small group of dedicated people.
Commitment and skills: Many people didn’t believe this could happen. Our strength has been our core group of nine who came to the first meeting and then became the Directors. We’ve been lucky that those who came along had the skills we needed. Don’t give up: where there’s a will.
Partnership and funding: when working with the Local Authority, we’ve needed to understand its issues and challenges. Be patient and persevere. With funding applications, attention to detail is extremely important; dot the I’s and cross the T’s.
Bringing in new people and ideas: our Board and the project team have been focused on finding the funding, delivering the hub and developing a range of community activities. However we will be looking to the future, and bringing in new Directors with new ideas, and looking to develop these ideas too. Acquiring the title to the old Newlands Memorial Hall provided a further challenge and we are in the early stages of progressing the refurbishment of that property following securing a change of use and funding as outlined previously.
Next project: to fully redevelop the Old Memorial Hall so that it can continue to benefit the community through generating funds from its future use and continue to generate a full range of activities for the community across both properties.
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