VOLUNTEERS who took over a former council-run leisure centre can plan for its long term future with the help of a cash windfall.

Ferryhill Community Partnership landed £7,880 from the Government’s community assets and services grants programme to aid the development of Ferryhill Community Hub.

Volunteers reopened the leisure centre in September 2012 after it was shut in a cost-cutting exercise by Durham County Council.

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The grant has enabled the group to appoint a consultant to survey the building and identify the aspects most in need of investment.

It is likely to consider the best option to replace a gas heating system as a plant that serves the old part of the building has been condemned so electric heaters are being used instead.

How to improve security at the facility and exploring the possibility of installing a source of economical and environmentally friendly energy will also feature.

Volunteer David Farry said: “We want to be looking to be going green and eco friendly as a community, to reduce our carbon footprint, but also to reduce energy costs.”

Once the survey is complete, consultant Andrew Moore will apply for external funding towards required work.

The grant will also pay the Partnership’s legal fees to secure a long term lease on the Hub.

It is has just signed a new tenancy of will but is in talks with Durham County Council about a 35 year lease which officials hope to agree in about six weeks.

Volunteer Brian Gibson said: “A long term lease will put people’s minds at rest and offer a sense of security.

“Groups are constantly asking about the long term and some members who left when the council closed the centre might come back.”

Mr Farry added: “It will be particularly important to those who have invested in the project, such as the bar, children’s nursery, indoor bowls, boxing academy and taekwondo.

“Things are going great, we’re nearly running at 100 per cent capacity and trying to organise after school and holiday provision for primary school aged children.”

The grant will also pay for a newsletter to update residents on the Hub and thank supporters.