COLDINGHAM Sands Community Company were handed an early Christmas present last week when they received notice that their application for LEADER funding for the proposed village visitor centre had been approved.
The project has now been boosted to the tune of £116,000, meaning that there is now just under £10,000 funding left to secure before work on the £242,000 development can begin.
Last month ‘The Berwickshire News’ revealed the community company’s ambitious plans for a new building in the centre of the village which will house an interpretation centre, giving people an insight into local history and Coldingham Priory, as well as a coffee shop, meeting room and post office.
Speaking back then after learning the first of the company’s grant applications had been successful, community company chairman, David Jones said there was “a real need” for such a facility in the village and now he is overjoyed that it is well on its way to becoming a reality.
“We’re all absolutely over the moon that we’ve now got the biggest chunk of funding in place - 90 per cent to be precise.
“We got the news last Wednesday and it was the perfect tonic after we got a knock back from the Robertson Trust for £10,000 worth of funding.
“This was a big blow to us but we’ve now hurriedly pulled another application together for a grant from Scottish Borders Council’s Landfill Fund and LEADER were happy to award their funding, pending the success of this final application for match funding.”
Once up and running, the facility, which will be developed on the site of an old toilet block, and be right in the centre of the village, will be known as the Luckenbooth - an old Scots word for the first enclosed and lockable shops in the market place - and David said he was relieved thoughts could now turn to building works.
“For want of a better word we really have been flying by the seat of our trousers over the past couple of months.
“It’s been a really quick process but we knew that we had to keep on track to meet the LEADER deadline.
“The LEADER panel were due to sit on December 2, but this was called off due to the weather which is why we only found out we’d been successful last week.
“If we hadn’t had made the deadline, the 90 per cent, which is a complete one off, wouldn’t have been available and I don’t know what we’d have done.
“The last application for SBC funding looks like it will go ahead without any problems and the next step after that will be to go to architects and get some detailed designs drawn up and secure a building warrant.
“The way we see it we’ve effectively done our bit, now it’s up to the professionals. We’re hoping building work will commence in March.
David said that as well as helping to raise the profile of Coldingham as a tourist destination, the centre will finally give a new home to Coldingham Post Office, which lost its permanent residence last year.
He added: “We don’t want Ann Kerr (postmistress) to have to spend another winter in a tin shed.
“It’s very pleasant inside but portable cabins aren’t ever built with the purpose of being warm and cosy.
“Everyone in the village is excited about the development and it should really help our economy as well as giving the community company a proper base.
“It will tie together everything in a central point of the village.”