Housing developer is a good neighbour

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A NEW housing development is proving a good neighbour to a village community centre after providing extra facilities.

Members of the Area Training and Activity Centre (ATAC) in Widdrington Station had feared huge disruption when work began to re-develop the former Willows pub site next door, especially as the building shared a wall and access.

But the Mile Road housing development has instead brought some surprise benefits for the centre in the form of extra rooms and a new parking area.

The site is being developed by Dunelm Property Services for Two Castles Housing Association to provide 22 affordable homes.

During discussions about the work, Dunelm agreed to give up space to create an extra room for the activity centre.

And the developer also offered to install a new parking area, using mesh over grass, at the rear of the building, provided ATAC could find the funds for materials in time for it to be done at the same time as Dunelm’s own road works.

Trustees immediately submitted a grant application to the Maidens Hall Community Benefits Fund, but the committee requested more information before making a decision.

However, when county councillor David Towns heard about the situation he donated around £5,000 from his small schemes budget to cover the cost.

ATAC Chairman Richard Lillico said: “Working together with Dunelm has been brilliant.

“We wouldn’t have been able to get the car park or the extra room without Dunelm or Coun Towns. They have been absolutely brilliant.

“The work has made a tremendous difference. People who use the centre have somewhere to park now and we can still use the land as an outdoor space. It is ideal.”

Coun Towns said: “I view ATAC as a vital community resource, which helps old and young enrich their lives by learning new skills or simply by meeting new friends.

“It’s a shame such facilities don’t exist in other parts of our county and I for one whole-heartedly support its aims and objectives.

“I therefore decided to pay for the new car park out of my small schemes budget. This will hopefully allow ATAC to focus its finances on its good work and will ensure the continued viability of the project going forward.”