Lotto cash blow over bid for ex-Leeds school revamp

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CAMPAIGNERS battling to convert a former Leeds primary school into a community hub have suffered a major funding blow.

The Royal Park Community Consortium’s (RPCC) bid for a Big Lottery grant has been turned down.

The group is pressing ahead with efforts to raise the £1.8m needed to get the project off the ground.

Various criteria have to be met to be eligible for Big Lottery cash and Paul Hudson, a member of the RPCC, said: “It seems we are not in the right area of Leeds to qualify.”

The consortium wants to lease the former Royal Park Primary School in Hyde Park and convert it into a wide range of community and business uses.

The large Victorian building has stood empty since the school closed in 2004. Since then the former school has deteriorated and its plight was highlighted in 2009 when a group of protesters illegally occupied the building.

They cleared the building of rubbish and rubble and organised events to illustrate the building’s potential as a community hub before being evicted by the council.

Earlier this year the council agreed to give the RPCC until September to raise the initial £750,000 needed to get the scheme underway. The RPCC is hoping for an extention.

The Community Builders Fund, which support neighbourhoods organisations, offered the consortium £800,000 - on condition it first raised the other £1.8m to cover the total refurbishment costs.

RPCC member Sue Buckle said: “The problem we have is that many people think the CBF grant is a done deal but we only get it if we can raise the rest of the money needed for all the work.”

A fundraising concert featuring local bands at Squares, Boar Lane, is on June 8 at 7pm. Send donations to RPCC, 13 Ash Grove, Leeds LS6 1AX, with cheques made payable to Royal Park Community Consortium.

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