A trailblazing south Leeds community project is set to expand its services after council bosses approved the handover of a derelict school sports hall and £55,000 of funding to help transform it into a hub for local people.
Leeds City Council’s decision-making executive board has signed off the transfer of the old Cockburn School sports hall to Beeston’s Hamara Healthy Living Centre under a community asset transfer arrangement.
The future of the unused building was under threat and it was earmarked by the council as one 10 similar buildings which were currently of no benefit to the community.
Expressions of interest were invited from community groups, and Hamara was the only one that responded.
A report approved by the panel yesterday said: “Hamara is a well established local community organisation that has been delivering services to the community in Leeds for over 11 years.
“This project will give them an opportunity to use the building to improve health and wellbeing and community cohesion in one of the most deprived communities in Leeds.
“In the long term, the proposal will achieve a revenue efficiency saving for the council and will achieve positive social outcomes.”
Hamara will take on the building on a 25 year lease at a peppercorn rent.
Hanif Malik, CEO of Hamara, said: “We were keen to retain it for the local community as there is no sports centre on this side of Beeston.
“It will fill a void, and we hope it will be part of a wider community partnership with Hunslet Club and Leeds United.
“We are grateful to the council and our elected members for having faith in us.”
Mr Malik and his team will now start to spruce up the building in three phases, as well as carrying out further fundraising.
A community steering group will also be set up to help push the project forward, and volunteers are invited to get in touch.
The £55,000 grant funding will be spread over three years.
Call Hamara on 0113 277 3330 to volunteer for the steering group or building clean-up.