AN AMBITIOUS scheme to transform a former Buckfastleigh church into a community hub has received a milestone financial boost.

The Buckfastleigh Moor Imagination Collective is celebrating securing £205,000 funding from the Government’s Community Ownership Fund.

The funding is a major step forward for the group in its mission to turn Buckfastleigh Methodist Church building into a ‘thriving’ space for community use.

News that the cash has been approved means the group behind the plans can now buy the building and finance the legal, planning and administrative costs associated with the next steps of making their vision a reality.

The project was born out of a need for an inclusive and accessible community space in the heart of Buckfastleigh.

In 2022, supported by a Project Viability Grant from the Architectural Heritage Funding, the collective carried out extensive community consultation and developed a comprehensive business plan which formed the foundation of their successful COF bid. 

A spokesman for the collective said: ‘The response to the news from the local community has been phenomenal.

‘One local resident said he was 75 years old, and this brought tears to his eyes.

‘He said it really lifted his heart, regained his trust in humanity and made him feel like there is a good future for his grandchildren.’

Once initial renovation work has been completed, the building will provide a wealth of opportunities for people of all ages, including workshops, performances and classes, with a community café and kitchen at its heart. 

Through the Community Ownership Fund the government is providing £150 million over four years to support community groups in the UK to take ownership of assets and amenities at risk of being lost.

Voluntary and community groups can bid for funding to acquire important assets and run them for the benefit of the local community.

The group successfully registered Buckfastleigh Methodist Church as a community asset with Teignbridge Council and the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes have since announced their intention to sell.

This triggered a moratorium period which gave them time to get a plan in place to purchase the building as a local asset for the community.

Long term, the aim is to create an accessible building, with flexible, multi-use spaces, for use as an arts and community centre in the heart of Buckfastleigh providing a hub for performance of all kinds, incorporating three different performance, workshop and event spaces; creative studio with facilities for recording and editing; community café and bar; community kitchen; hotdesking facilities; creative childcare; education hub; community gym; book/clothes/toy swap; tool library; repair café; community larder.

Buckfastleigh Methodist Church building was built in 1835, funded by mill owners for the benefit of the local community.