AN INNOVATIVE new partnership between the Earley Charity (as funder and lessee), Catalyst Housing Association (as operator) and Reading Borough Council (as owner) is set to transform Amersham Road’s community centre into one of the finest in the area.
The major improvements to Amersham Road Youth and Community Centre (ARYCC) are under way, with builders already on site, work set to be completed in about three months’ time, and a grand re-opening planned for the autumn.
The centre will receive a £540,000 extension and refurbishment following an agreement between Reading Borough Council and the Earley Charity.
An earlier initiative funded by the Earley Charity to engage with the community generated significant local interest in neighbourhood transformation and a desire to renovate ARYCC. It has also led to the formation of a community partnership of more than a dozen organisations and resident-led groups.
The Council has been working closely with Earley Charity and the local community to find a way to upgrade the existing building and provide the best service for the local area.
The Council has managed all aspects and stages of the design and construction work for the extension and refurbishment of the centre. A total of £75,000 has been committed by the Council to cover this work and existing repair and maintenance costs and Earley Charity will invest £540,000 to give the centre a new façade, a new reception area, meeting space and a café.
The Earley Charity has also committed to funding a centre manager for the period of its 30 year lease and providing an annual community fund to support local initiatives. The Council will also make a contribution as a user of the centre.
Building work is expected to be completed in July. Users of the centre have been found alternative accommodation to continue their activities while the centre is closed.
A Community Centre Management Group will include representatives from the Council, the Earley Charity and Catalyst Housing Association and will report to a wider Advisory Board containing councillors and members of the community.
Councillor Liz Terry, Lead Member for Neighbourhoods, said:
“Residents in the Amersham Road area are keen to see their community centre upgraded and for it to become an attractive space for a wide range of activities. The arrangement reached between the Council and the Earley Charity will allow this to happen.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Amersham Road Youth and Community Centre becoming a thriving local facility which residents can be proud of.”
Deborah Jenkins, Chair of the Earley Charity’s Community Development Committee, added:
“The Earley Charity already supports the CResCent Resource Centre in Earley and we look forward to the opening of the new centre in Amersham Road, bringing similar high-quality community facilities to an area where they are very much needed.
“We are signing up to a 30-year agreement, to give local people certainty that their splendid new centre will be serving the area long into the future.”