Community Buildings

Community Buildings Advice

A community centre or village hall is one of the most valuable assets of any community, both in terms of its capital value and in the sense of the facilities and activities it provides for local residents.

Cheshire has around 300 community buildings, most of which are charities run by dedicated volunteer trustees.  These buildings are becoming increasingly important for maintaining the health and wellbeing of our local communities, especially given our ageing population, declining rural services and increasing levels of obesity and social isolation.  They also contribute significantly to the rural economy, supporting local businesses and in some cases, offering local employment opportunities.  Some of our village halls double up a local cinemas, post offices, sports halls and pubs – some even offer beautiful wedding venues!

However, managing these buildings can be hugely challenging for their volunteer trustees in terms of the costs involved and the sheer amount of legislation which must be complied with.  Buildings must meet fire regulations and health and safety requirements and they must have the correct licences and safeguarding procedures in place.  Key running costs such as energy and insurance can take up significant levels of income, often leaving very little funding for improvements or major repairs. Many halls depend on fundraising and parish council support just to keep their doors open.

Supporting community buildings across Cheshire has been a key service offered by Cheshire Community Action for many years.  We are there to support volunteer trustees in tackling these issues by providing practical help and up-to-date guidance on all aspects of running a community building. 

We can provide committees with a wide range of templates such as model hire agreements and governing documents, together with over 40 information sheets on topics such as business planning, storage and energy efficiency.  We also produce a quarterly newsletter and hold 4 network events a year with presentations on topical issues and opportunities to liaise with fellow members across the county.

When it comes to major refurbishment or rebuilding a hall, external grant funding is almost always required.  We can assist volunteers with locating and applying for funding and in the last few years, we’ve helped to raise nearly £1million in grants for building enhancements.

Our service is backed-up by a wide support network, including our umbrella organisation, ACRE (Action for Communities in Rural England), and nearly forty village hall advisors across England - so if we don't know the answer to a question, we should be able to find someone who does!

Membership costs only £50 per year.  By joining you will:

  • Receive dedicated one-to-one support from a CCA officer
  • Have unlimited access to a wide range of information sheets, model documents and toolkits
  • Become a member of our community buildings network where you will receive regular updates, newsletters and invites to events as well as being able to liaise directly with other community building management committees.  Around 60 halls have already signed up
  • Receive information about the latest grant opportunities and get help filling out application forms
  • Help CCA to remain as an impartial source of information, advice and professional support for parish councils, community buildings committees and other community organisations.

Our team of community development specialists at CCA can also give you advice about governance, project planning, community led planning and community consultation techniques.

So if you’re running a hall and need some support or you’re even thinking of building a new community building, we’d love to hear from you. 

Please contact Claire Jones on 01244 400222, or use our contact form.

For a list of community buildings in Cheshire, please see our buildings directory here

Our Community Buildings Advisory Service can offer support on:

  • Finding funding
  • Improving energy efficiency
  • Village hall management and governance
  • Compliance with legislation
  • Achieving the Hallmark quality standard
  • Health and safety
  • Disability access
  • Maintenance issues
  • PAT testing

For more information, please phone 01244 400222 or use our contact form.

Hallmark Quality Standard

The Hallmark Scheme is a quality standard offered to village halls that was launched by Action for Communities in Rural England (ACRE) in 2007 and currently operates in 20 counties.

It gives halls a framework to help them assess how to improve the management of their buildings. It is carried out by trained peer visitors using a checklist to identify areas that are run well and areas that need improvement.

The scheme has just been relaunched in Cheshire.  Full information can be found in the new toolkit.

Community Buildings Network

Are you part of a Community Building Management Committee?

Cheshire Community Action has decades of experience supporting volunteers who run community buildings.

Our well established network gives you the opportunity to address a range of issues as well learn from, and share ideas with other volunteers running community buildings.

Keep an eye on this page for news on future meetings.

Community Buildings Membership

Benefits of Membership:

  • Access to our Community Buildings Advisory Service
  • Regular updates, publications and resources
  • Free access to a wide range of events
  • Access to funding advice and project development support
  • You’ll be part of the Cheshire Community Buildings Network

Community Buildings Membership for 2017/18 is £50. The membership form can be downloaded by following this link

If you would like any further information on the Community Buildings Network or Community Buildings Membership please phone 01244 400222 or use our contact form.