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The Spetchells Centre

Prudhoe is a busy market town in the south of Northumberland.

The opening of the Spetchells Centre was the realisation of a long-term vision for Prudhoe Community Partnership, Prudhoe Town Council and Northumberland County Council.

Prudhoe Community Partnership has been operating its much valued Info Point for more than 14 years.

The Info Point gives local access to a range of services including employment advice, legal surgeries, Citizens Advice Bureau and credit union.

While it was centrally located, the Info Point building was not fit for purpose with small rooms and different floor levels. Prudhoe Town Council was based in the building but needed bigger and more suitable office and meeting space.

About four years ago, the library service was considering how to update facilities and modernise services in Prudhoe. The library building in Prudhoe was old-fashioned, the sloping roof design meant that the two storey building was reduced to only one storey at the rear and provided relatively little usable space.

Due to changing public expectations, there was a strong view that linking the library and the Info Point to form a community hub would better serve the needs of current and future customers.

Initial feasibility work was undertaken through the Advancing Assets programme.  The Partnership then secured a feasibility grant from Communitybuilders to develop plans for refurbishment of the library building on the basis of a community asset transfer from Northumberland County Council.

As the architectural work continued as part of the feasibility work, the capital cost kept rising. This led the Partnership Trustee Board to question the rationale for refurbishment over new build. Further sustainability and cost analysis showed the potential for a new building on the footprint of the existing library building.

The plans were changed and planning permission gained in July 2010 for a three storey new build.

Following extensive community consultation and the granting of planning permission, an application for investment was made to Communitybuilders. The final funding package included a loan/grant investment from Communitybuilders of £1.8 million, with contributions from Prudhoe Town Council of £15k and Northumberland County Council of £100k.

The asset transfer took place in March 2011 and the fixed price schedule contract with the builders was signed the same month. The building opened a year later and has proved very popular with local people in Prudhoe.