December 14, 2012 | Community News
Facilities at a century-old Teesdale village hall have been upgraded thanks to a four-figure donation from a north east renewable energy firm.
The gentlemen’s toilets at the Village Hall in Woodland have received a long-awaited refurbishment thanks to a £6,640 grant awarded to the Hall’s management committee by Banks Renewables, via its Banks Community Fund, which is administered in partnership with the County Durham Community Foundation.
In addition to this, new polysafe non-slip flooring has been laid across the hall’s front entrance and in the adjoining ladies and disabled toilets, as well as in the upgraded gents.
The refurbishment work was carried out by local contractor Kenny Mattison, and took around six weeks to complete.
Originally opened in 1891, the Village Hall is the only venue of its kind in Woodland, and acts as a hub for a wide range of groups and activities, from functions and meetings organised by the village church, school and parish council through to pilates classes and a luncheon club for the over 60s.
Dora Robinson, who is part of the management committee, says: “We’ve managed to refurbish a lot of the building over the last few years, but hadn’t been able to include the gents toilets in this programme, with the result that it has deteriorated quite badly.
“Not only has the refurbishment work improved the facilities in themselves, it has also made the hall’s front entrance look much more appealing, which is leading to even more people from across the community to make use of the building.
“The application process for the funding was very straightforward, and we’re extremely grateful to Banks for the help they’ve provided in enabling us to undertake and complete this long-planned work.”
Banks is the company behind the proposed Windy Bank wind farm, which would be situated on agricultural land between Woodland and the southern edge of Hamsterley Forest.
The wind farm would produce enough energy to meet the annual electricity consumption requirements of around 7,400 homes, and would prevent the release into the atmosphere of around 15,100 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year that would occur with the production of the same amount of energy by non-renewable means.
Around 30 jobs would be created during the site preparation and construction phases of the scheme, with local firms having the opportunity to tender for a range of related contracts worth up to £3.5m, and an associated £625,000 benefits fund would enable Banks to deliver a range of community and environmental improvements in partnership with local people over the wind farm’s 25-year lifespan.
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at the Banks Group, adds: “Places like Woodland Village Hall play an invaluable role at the heart of many rural communities across our region, and supporting them by backing projects such as this is central to our development with care approach.
“Sharing the benefits of the schemes that we operate around the country with the areas in which they are situated is part of Banks’ long-term policy for ensuring that people living in these areas gain tangible, long-term advantages from our presence there, and this would very much be the case for the communities around our proposed Windy Bank scheme.
“The funding provided for Woodland Village Hall is a good example of the sort of community-based project that could be supported from the Windy Bank benefits fund, and we hope we are given the opportunity to help make major long-term improvements to local facilities by using revenues from the wind farm in this way.”
Projects, community groups, or organisations looking for funding in the vicinity of a Banks Group development should contact the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.