Key building to be brought back into use by youth project

Coun Gregah Roughead, ward member for Berwick West with Ord.
Coun Gregah Roughead, ward member for Berwick West with Ord.

Berwick Youth Project is set to take on and bring back into use a derelict listed building in the heart of the town.

At yesterday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s decision-making cabinet, it was agreed to transfer 5 Palace Street East to the youth project so it can deliver additional services.

Draft terms for the transfer can now be prepared, which means that Berwick Youth Project can submit applications for funding and planning permission.

Northumberland County Council holds the land at Palace Street East, including the Mansion House and Hall, as sole corporate trustee of an unregistered charity known as the Old Grammar School Foundation.

The property is held as part of the Foundation’s general endowment to be used as a school house, for which it was used until the 1940s/50s, and otherwise for the purposes of the Foundation.

It has since been used by the council’s education team for community purposes and registrars, but is currently vacant and has fallen into disrepair.

The council is under a legal duty as a charity trustee to ensure that the property is used to further the Foundation’s charitable purposes and must appoint an additional trustee; this will be Mike Turner, the council’s head of property services.

Discussions have already been held with the Charity Commission over the possibility of transferring the property to the youth project, which was established in 1994.

A draft scheme has been prepared with the aim of aligning Berwick Youth Project’s objectives to the Trust’s objectives and while this has been approved by the Charity Commission, a formal submission is yet to be made.

At last week’s corporate services committee, where the transfer was also discussed, Coun Gregah Roughead said: “I welcome that something’s finally being done because it’s been derelict for a number of years.

“It’s nice to see that a nice-looking, listed building will be back in use in the community again.”

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service