A new bespoke community centre will help a County Durham charity expand and provide more services. 

Shildon Alive’s plan for the new facility on Main Street will allow the charity to cope with the increased demand in its services. 

Durham County Council has now approved a planning application for the renovation of the empty site. The charity will leave its current premises on Church Street once the redevelopment is complete. 

The site, which was previously owned by Barrier Surveillance, has been cleared of its original building to make way for the new development.

The community centre will be a two-storey building, with the ground floor housing a community centre, office space, a community shop and food bank, and a commercial kitchen. The first floor will include a community room and a flexible room that will be used for community-driven activities.

A planning statement added: “The proposed development of a new community centre will provide essential facilities for the local community and will significantly benefit the area.”

The Northern Echo: The site on Main Street where the new community centre will be built The site on Main Street where the new community centre will be built (Image: Google)

Shildon Alive was formed in 2014 and has recently received the King’s Award for voluntary service.

Set up by Paula Nelson, project manager, and run by staff and volunteers with the support of St John’s Church, the project provides hundreds of meals each week for individuals, children and families facing challenging circumstances.

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Volunteers and staff use surplus supermarket food to supply its shop, with food available on a donation basis to vulnerable adults and families. They also distribute around 200 meals on wheels a week, while the catering team provides opportunities for young people to work with food, grow in confidence and potentially lead to careers in the industry.

The project also runs a food bank, a credit union and provides support for people facing issues such as financial poverty and unemployment, helping them with benefit claims, housing matters and digital skills.

Work on the new community centre is due to start in 2024.