CAMPAIGNERS are jubilant plans for a new community centre in Vange look to be fully funded.
Basildon Council’s cabinet will meet on Thursday to agree a £180,000 handout to build a community centre in Kent View Recreation Ground, Vange.
It is the culmination of a twoand- a-half year battle to stop the playing fields being sold off for homes by the council. Outrage at that possibility led to the Vange Community Group being formed.
The authority will hand over the lease of the centre to the group of volunteers and work could start on replacing the existing dilapidated seventiesbuilt centre in the coming months, if funding is agreed.
The cash will come from the council’s Community Investment Fund.
Daniel Munyambu, Labour councillor for Vange, said: “It’s a big success story and shows what people power can do.
“They have come a long way and have kept fighting and fighting and I’m glad the council are working with them as this is something that will benefit the whole community. It will not only serve Vange, but also hopefully draw in people from other communities too.”
The group has had to submit a business case and the centre will be split into twomain rooms, one housing a pre-school and the other a community hall.
Toilets, kitchen areas, store rooms and an office will also be included.
Mr Munyambu, who has worked with residents on their campaign, says he hopes there will be facilities for youth groups plus space for charities to meet at the centre.
The council is set to agree to lease the centre to the group on a peppercorn rent, but the Tory administration will retain ownership of the rest of the playing fields.
The council was all set to sell off the land in 2012 to help pay off the debt of the £38million Sporting Village, but people power forced it into a rethink.
Terri Sargent, Basildon councillor responsible for the community, said: “I’m really pleased we changed the decision. It just shows the power that people can have and if they want something enough and try hard enough, they will get what they want.”
Tony Ball, council leader said: “This project was popular with the residents.
“They got together with a plan, and they had plans for a rebuild and the management of the centre.”
Instead of Kent View, land was sold at playing fields off Ballards Walk.
The cabinet is also set to formerly agree to reverse its original decision, taken in 2012, to dispose of the land for housing.