Vandalised centre will be hub for young people in Blackpool
A Blackpool community centre which had been a target for vandals has now been refurbished and handed over to a youth group.
Town hall chiefs have formally approved a five-year lease for the Boathouse Youth to take over the Horsebridge Road Community Centre on Grange Park.
The Boathouse Youth has been delivering youth activities on the estate since June 2017 using space at Boundary Primary School.
But it will now operate out of the community centre for a peppercorn rent.
It is hoped finding a new role for the building, which used to provide activities for residents of nearby sheltered housing but had been empty for some time, will also prevent vandalism attacks which have blighted the area.
Laurance Hancock, chief executive of the Boathouse Youth, said the move would enable them to increase free provision from three evenings a week to five and introduce the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.
He said: "Our Grange Park Youth Club has a membership of 271 children and young people, aged five to 17, with admission figures often exceeding 150 per night.
"During the last two years hundreds of children have also benefited from free summer camps, canal boating residentials, cycling experiences and day-trips.
"We are extremely grateful to Blackpool Coastal Housing and Blackpool Council who have funded and facilitated the renovation of the centre to an extremely high-standard.
"We are aware of the ongoing concerns regarding vandalism, but remain hopeful that the positive and diversionary activities on offer will reduce the number of incidents across the estate."
A council report says: "The lack of use of the community centre was causing problems for neighbours, with anti-social behaviour taking place around the empty building.
"The Boathouse has been providing youth activities on the Grange Park estate in the last couple of years, borrowing space at Boundary Primary School on the other side of the estate.
"This hasn’t been ideal and hasn’t allowed the development of permanent high quality youth work.
"Moving to a permanent home at Horsebridge Road Community Centre will enable the Boahouse to plan more activities, and help address the current lack of activities for young people in that part of the estate.
"The council has undertaken refurbishment of the community centre to enable it to be suitable for use by the Boathouse, and they will occupy the building at a peppercorn rent as long as they continue to provide activities for local young people, most of whom are council tenants.
"This will be good for local young people and help reduce disturbance to other local residents."
A series of vandal attacks had previously left windows repeatedly broken and doors damaged.