Barrhead community hub set to open after extra grant

A community hub in a Barrhead park is set to open soon after a Scottish Government grant helped to cover increased costs.

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Cowan Park's Gate Lodge is set to come back into use
Cowan Park's Gate Lodge is set to come back into use

Funding for a Cowan Park enterprise and community centre was initially secured from the government’s regeneration capital grant fund.

However, rising costs left East Renfrewshire Council with a £228,700 shortfall until government officials agreed to provide an extra £200,000 towards the project.

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It involves renovating the derelict Cowan Park gate lodge, including a workshop, office and meeting space, public toilets, kitchen and cafe. The hub will be managed by charity Include Me 2 Club, which provides services for people with additional support needs, disabilities and mental health issues.

A council official said: “The lodge at Cowan Park has been derelict for a long, long time and doesn’t provide a very welcoming entrance to the park. We’ve been looking at trying to improve the park for quite a while now.

“What we’re trying to do is create an enterprise and community hub. That hub will provide space for the delivery of skills development, improve employability prospects, training, capacity building for third sector organisations, and increase support for social enterprise and community groups.”

The original £890,000 contract was covered by £499,000 from the regeneration fund and a council contribution of £391,000. However, due to “external factors outwith the council’s control there has been an increase in contract cost”, with an extra £228,700 required.

The Scottish Government has agreed to cover £200,000 of the increase, with the council paying £28,700. The total project cost is now £1.12m.

Councillors were told the increase was due to a combination of factors, including a collapsed main sewer which needed to be rerouted, the impact of covid which caused material and staff shortages and “necessary” enhancements, such as more disabed car parking.

Council leader Owen O’Donnell congratulated officials on securing extra funding.

He said: “I know this is an exciting project and it has been eagerly anticipated by the local community in Barrhead and. in particular, by Include Me 2 and all the people who use their services and I look forward to seeing it up and running.”