Bideford project attracts national attention

Joseph Bulmer

Proposals for a new community centre in Bideford has received donations from major national organisations

THE designers of the Sydney Opera House and the England and Wales Cricket Board are among those involved in plans for a new community centre in Bideford.

The charity Wings South West said its proposals for the Bridge Centre were progressing well and had received an “overwhelming” amount of local and national support.

Plans for the Moreton House Playing Fields include international-standard sporting facilities; a church; cinema and theatre area; bistro; fitness studios; cyber caf�; and cr�che.

Wings, who have formed the proposal around feedback from local people, have already received a number of generous donations towards the project.

In June 2011, they received a grant of �19,500 from the charity LandAid, as well as a generous donation from a national charity towards the project.

They have also secured more than �600,000 worth of work donated to them from various organisations including local architects RGP, London Olympic Handball Centre architects MAKE, Sydney Opera House designers Arup, One Hyde Park planners DP9, and top legal company Pinsent Mason.

The charity is working with the England and Wales Cricket Board to try to provide a facility for those with disabilities to play cricket.

Dr Paul Bowser, chief executive officer of Wings, said he was delighted at the progress the proposals had made in such a short space of time.

He said: “We are trying to give younger and older people a chance to say ‘this is what we want to see in our community centre’. The more public support we get, the more likely it is to happen.”

As well as major national players, Dr Bowser explained they had been working closely with local organisations, including Bideford College and Abbotsham Baptist Church.

He added: “Bideford College has elected nine cultural ambassadors between them aged from 13 to 17, and some of the ideas they were coming up with were really fascinating.”

He said there would be a strong focus on “creating opportunities”, and there are hopes that the bistro in the centre will provide opportunities to work with the college and create apprenticeships.

James Lewis, a youth worker at the Wings Hall in Bideford, said a new community centre was exactly what the area needed.

He said: “Resources in Bideford are pretty scarce. Being a young person growing up here is hard with the lack of support and ambition.”

Housing developer Redrow has donated an area of land towards the project in outline plans for a housing development, expected to be submitted within the next six weeks.

Wings South West is looking to gain as much support as possible for the project, so if you think it’s a positive step for the community, print off the form on the right, fill it out and send it to meeting place communications, no stamp required.

For more information on the Bridge Centre proposals, visit the website