Town hall funding snub

A £1.1 MILLION project to redevelop a dilapidated town hall has been killed off by a decision not to grant Heritage Lottery funding.A community group began five years ago to devise plans for the future of Eye Town Hall, which would include repairs, improvements, provision of a visitors centre and the opening up of the building to greater community use.

A £1.1 MILLION project to redevelop a dilapidated town hall has been killed off by a decision not to grant Heritage Lottery funding.

A community group began five years ago to devise plans for the future of Eye Town Hall, which would include repairs, improvements, provision of a visitors centre and the opening up of the building to greater community use.

However, the Heritage Lottery Fund has now decided not to approve a grant, a decision, which effectively closes off access to other sources of money.

Andrew Evitt, chairman of Eye Town Hall Community Projects, said he was “very disappointed” by the decision.


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“It always was a difficult application because of the multiplicity of funders who were all inter-related.

“Attracting a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund was crucial to opening the door to the other funds,” he said.

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Mr Evitt said the Lottery Fund was under increasing pressure from applicants and he understood that only 16-18% of all applications were now successful and those that did succeed had to be “exceptional”.

“The money available has been reducing dramatically and it seems that this kind of project is not what they are looking for. Eye Town Hall needs a lot of work but it is not falling down,” he said.

The process of developing the application had created a large amount of information about the town hall and the local community, which would be useful in the future, Mr Evitt said.

He was also optimistic that English Heritage would help with the bill for essential repairs to the building.

“It is now up to the town council to decide where to go from here.

“It is clear now that everything is not going to happen at once. We have to take a longer-term view,” he added.

Among the priorities for the town council will be outstanding repairs and the provision of improved access for disabled people - to meet the requirements of legislation due to come into force in the autumn of this year.

Alex Gaskell, for the Heritage Lottery Fund said: “HLF was unable to support the application as the town hall was not at immediate risk and the project did not demonstrate good value for money in terms of heritage and public benefits.

“There was a lack of evidence of public demand for the visitors centre and concerns about its ongoing viability.”

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