CHRISTMAS has come early for the village of Addingham after it was revealed an application for £50,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to create a community hub has been successful.

Addingham Parish Council applied for the grant and its success means work can start on the project in January 2019. The hub will be housed in the Old School, a Grade II listed building in the heart of the village, which is currently closed for structural reasons.

The money will be used to repair and improve the building. When re-opened, it will again house the community's library, to be joined by the village archive in a new heritage centre.

It will also offer a flexible public space on the upper floor, available free of charge for the community to use for small group meetings, activities and social get-togethers, or just for people to drop in for a cup of tea and a chat with neighbours.

The good news from the Big Lottery Fund comes just weeks after the Garfield Weston Anniversary Fund awarded the community library a grant of £50,000, which had library volunteers "whooping with joy".

The injection of cash means the parish council and the library, working with Addingham Civic Society and other village volunteers, can start work in earnest on creating the new community hub in Addingham.

John Mawson, vice-chairman of Addingham Parish Council and chairman of the Old School Working Group, said: “The Council is absolutely delighted with this news - at last, we can move ahead with our plans and make the Addingham Hub a reality. "Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our staff and village volunteers, we can now fund the capital works at the Old School without having to deplete our reserves or raise additional precept monies. It's excellent news as we approach the time of year for setting our 2019 budget and precept!”

The Old School is a Grade II listed building, dating from 1668, with the upper storey added in the early 1800s. It is owned by the Parish Council.

The building was closed in early 2017, when an initial refurbishment project had to be aborted because of structural problems. The new renovation project will involve repairs to the upper floor and strengthening of the walls to resolve these problems.

After the building has been made sound again, the plans to refurbish it will be brought forward and it will also be possible to make additional improvements, including the installation of an inner staircase and a disabled toilet.

The Parish Council and Library have been applying for grant funding towards the costs of renovating the building and equipping it as a new Hub. Total project costs, including the costs of the equipment, amount to some £120,000.

Grant funding of £111,350 has now been secured, covering all major project costs. Library fundraising and the Parish Council’s financial contribution, already earmarked in last year’s budget, will fund the remaining costs of equipment for the new facility.

The Addingham Hub will comprise the community library, a new heritage and information centre, and a new informal space for community meetings and social events.

The Community Library is currently run from a temporary location, in a portacabin parked behind the Memorial Hall. The space is too small to accommodate much of the stock, and the excess is currently stored off site, along with the books, files and archived material belonging to the parish council.

The new heritage and information centre will make archived heritage material on the history of Addingham – photos, maps and other records – available in one place and easily accessible to the public for the first time.