Council awards £346,000 in CIL funding for village hall and academy

Housing growth in Babergh will fund vital improvements to a village hall, as well as the expansion of a local secondary school, following agreement by councillors yesterday (Tuesday, June 8).

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is collected from developers when they build new homes in the district. The funding helps to ensure that local infrastructure keeps pace with housing growth and also supports the council’s vision for communities which are attractive, successful and connected places for people to live and work.

Councillors considered bids from the latest CIL funding round at their Cabinet meeting, with unanimous agreement reached on proposals to contribute £109,000 towards planned improvements to Preston St Mary Village Hall.

The hall is a popular social hub – hosting fitness classes, art groups, parish council meetings and a range of other community activities.

CIL funding will help to enable its expansion, which includes the provision of improved kitchen facilities and indoor toilets.

In addition to benefitting existing hall users, it is hoped that the modernisation works will attract new private hire bookings – allowing revenue generated from this to be invested back into the village.

Babergh District Council originally approved £130,000 in CIL for the project in March 2019. However, due to various unforeseen delays – including the lapse of previous planning permission – work was unable to be completed within the allocated timeframe, resulting in the unspent funding being returned to the council.

Planning permission has now been granted and Preston St Mary’s community has also rallied together to raise £87,000 towards the total project costs of £196,086, meaning that construction can begin later this year.

Clive Arthey, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for Planning, said: “I am delighted that Preston St Mary has been successful in securing the funding needed for vital improvements to their village hall.

“It is more than just a building, it is the heart of the community where local residents can come together to learn new hobbies or form friendships – the importance of which cannot be underestimated as we begin to emerge from the social isolation caused by Covid-19. I’d like to thank the village for their tireless fundraising efforts and overwhelming support for the project.”

Holbrook Academy’s CIL bid for £237,750 was also given the green light by cabinet members – paving the way for the secondary school’s capacity to increase from 590 to 600 pupils.

This will be achieved by reconfiguring existing facilities to allow the 10 additional school places to start from September – meeting identified need from housing growth within Stutton and Chelmondiston.

District CIL is income retained by the district council to spend on infrastructure to support development. This money must be applied for and the decision to spend significant amounts has to be taken by Cabinet.

Further information about how the CIL works can be found on the council’s website, with details about how the levy has been allocated available on the councils’ award-winning Developer Contributions Database.

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