Ingleton Middle Community Interest Company has signed a 25-year lease on the old middle school building.
The not-for-profit company was founded by five local residents in September and its primary aim is to promote interest, investment, innovation and industrious employment on the old school site.
“This is the start of a very hard and long project which we hope to carry with courage into the new year and beyond,” said board member Rosemary Hartley.
Due to open in April, the new “i centre” will provide a base for health, charity, education and business activities. A planning application for the change of use has been submitted to Craven District Council.
The first phase will be to focus on enterprise and employment as this will secure the economic future of the site.
“The i centre’s outlook is both optimistic and realistic,” said Rosemary. “It aims to develop the old middle school site into a new dynamic and creative centre for small enterprise, education, health, projects and organisations.
“Its success and future development are reliant upon the support from the local community and pioneering and creative entrepreneurs and social innovators.”
Initially, the CIC intends to make available small, affordable commercial units to stimulate the local rural economy, with a long term vision of incorporating health and education facilities.
“We are a small but determined group of ordinary individuals who want to make our locality sustainable and attractive for all who live here,” said Rosemary.
The company – which was born out of the original visionary group, IHOPE – has already been pledged £45,000 from the National Lottery and there are other grant applications pending.
Several businesses have expressed interest in using parts of the site and anyone interested in renting units or being involved in the project should contact Rosemary on (015242) 42207 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile Ingleton Middle CIC is looking for a volunteer site manager, who would oversee projects and liaise with contractors.
They would join the board alongside Rosemary, Simon Whiteley, Paul Weaire, Lesley Curtis, Helen Wilson. Associate members include Michelle Hodgson, Pauline Beadle and Jenny Thistlethwaite.