AMBITIOUS expansion plans for the Pollyfield Centre in Bideford could transform the East-the-Water community facility into a family, social and entertainment centre for the whole town. The proposed expansion could start as soon as next year. It would see

AMBITIOUS expansion plans for the Pollyfield Centre in Bideford could transform the East-the-Water community facility into a family, social and entertainment centre for the whole town.The proposed expansion could start as soon as next year.It would see the relocation of Bideford Amateur Boxing Club to purpose-built ground floor premises, with a dedicated youth club facility above.The development could also see a new restaurant/functions room for receptions and the like, connecting with the main hall. This would increase the total capacity of the venue to around 600 and make it more suitable for live entertainments.There are also hopes that the centre development could complement plans for a top standard new BMX track alongside.The Pollyfield Centre has been going through a period of change. Last year the Charity Commission brought in three interim trustees to restart the East-the-Water Community Association, the charity responsible for running the centre. At the association's recent annual meeting, 10 trustees were re-elected and they have been working to ensure the centre's refurbishment and open up its facilities to general use, with the ending of club membership.They are also keen to extend and improve the facilities and plans for an extension to include the new restaurant, hall and club facilities are under way, with a planning application submitted. The trustees are now sourcing funds and are hopeful that the work on the extension could start next year.Their first major entertainment project took place on Friday night with a concert by the well-known Wurzels. This was a 400-ticket sell-out and raised more than £1,500 for the Mayor's charities, Help for Heroes and Families in Grief, and also boosted centre funds.Town Mayor and centre trustee Cllr Caroline Church said: "The trustees and members of the local community have worked incredibly hard to refurbish the bar area and other parts of the building ready for opening. The Town Council, Bridge Trust and Tarka Housing have also been instrumental in the refurbishment, giving much needed grants to assist. There are now plans to refurbish the foyer and skittle alley."The work already completed would not have been done without the real commitment and hard work of our trustees and local organisations. Trustees and young people in East-the-Water have decorated, cleaned and prepared for one of the largest events every held at Pollyfield. We have shown it can be done and want the functions to continue and see our centre thrive."The plans to extend the centre are now a very real possibility and a planning application has been submitted. There are plans to welcome the Bideford Boxing Club and there are ongoing talks with other groups such as the Bideford Bombers BMX Club. The Pollyfield Centre should and can be the community showpiece of Bideford, that everyone can use."East-the-Water councillor Steve Clarke said there was some money available towards the £700,000 projected cost and that grants and loans were also being applied for. There was also the possibility of money towards the scheme from plans for housing development on council-owned land nearby."It is entirely possible that this could be started next spring," he said."The new restaurant, with new kitchens and views over the river could also include training facilities. Talks are taking place with the North Devon College. The boxing club would have a dedicated extension and above it would be a youth club, to give young people somewhere of their own. Hopefully, we could also see the building of an Olympic standard BMX track. This would all help to bring in people from outside of the town."East-the-Water councillor Brian Lacey said: "This would create a family centre open to everyone. Already things are looking good and we must thank all those who have given their help. We now want community groups of all sorts to get involved."www.northdevon.gov.uk