The Isle of Wight Council has agreed to develop a ‘community asset transfer arrangement’ to allow the wider involvement of voluntary groups in the operation of the Riverside Centre at Newport.
The council’s Cabinet approved the recommendation on Tuesday 10 September and plans for the centre will be developed in coming months before going before the Cabinet again in December.
It is planned that the new arrangement will help to resolve issues surrounding the lease of the centre by Riverside Centre Ltd – a registered charity – and also develop greater freedom for the building to be used for a wide variety of community activities.
Councillor Jonathan Gilbey, Cabinet member for resources, said:
“This decision signals the start of a new working relationship between the council and the Riverside Centre. By lifting current lease restrictions, we hope to open up the usage of the Riverside Centre to a wider range of charitable groups and organisations to create a community hub, making it accessible to more people.”
The Riverside Centre was built in four phases from 1987, and the current 25-year lease, which started in October 2003, provides an annual rent to the council of £54,000, with five-yearly rent reviews. The current lease is viewed as too restrictive in terms of the use it allows and a more viable arrangement for the future has been sought.
The new arrangements are intended to expand the use of the centre to create a community hub to provide information, advice and support to disabled people and others with long-term health conditions, as well as their carers. It will also provide space for voluntary and community sector organisations.
Under the community asset transfer proposal, a new full-repairing lease of 99 years would be created at a discounted rent – although the exact details are yet to be finalised.
The council would also work with the charity and other relevant organisations to develop a new delivery model for the centre – designed to assist with attracting external grant funding to invest in the centre.
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