Generations of players, coaches and supporters of Bryncethin RFC have celebrated the opening of the club’s brand new Community Centre.
Built to replace their old pavilion, the new two-storey building overlooks the rugby pitch and contains modern changing rooms, kitchens, an IT suite, a meeting room, large hall area, a patio area and balcony, as well as a dedicated car park.
Last year, Bryncethin RFC became the first sports club to complete a ‘Community Asset Transfer’ deal with Bridgend County Borough Council so that they could take over the ownership of their playing field and pavilion from the local authority.
As well as agreeing a 35-year lease, the rugby club also secured more than £500k funding from a variety of sources to completely transform the pavilion into a facility for the whole local community to treasure.
Jon Davies, the Chairman of Bryncethin RFC said:
“We have built this with the community in mind. That was the vision the club wanted – to build a pavilion the whole community could enjoy, rather than be exclusively used by one or two groups.
“We’ve had expressions of interest from judo and karate clubs, a ballet school and a couple of charities. There’s talk of a community cafe, and we’ve even been asked if we do wedding receptions”.
Funding for the upgrade has been provided from Bridgend County Borough Council’s Community Asset Transfer Fund, the Rural Communities Development Fund, the Communities Facilities Programme, Welsh Rugby Union, National Lottery Community Fund, and Section 106 monies.
Cllr Richard Young, Cabinet Member for Communities said:
“During a time of financial austerity, our Community Asset Transfer programme has been designed to enable sports clubs and other community groups to take on the management of facilities themselves.
“Faced with such significant budgetary constraints, council services can no longer operate at previous levels so we’ve been keen to explore alternative models where local people and community organisations play a larger role.
“Such arrangements can reinvigorate community assets, and the council is delighted to have supported Bryncethin RFC with this transformational project.”
Phil Jones, the club’s Vice-Chairman who has led the re-development project since the club submitted its initial expression of interest in January 2016, said:
“Our pavilion was close to being condemned as the council didn’t have the money to spend on it. We realised we either had to take it on ourselves or it would close due to the sub-standard conditions, and rugby would ultimately go from the village.
“We have been in existence for 130 years but we would have been finished if we hadn’t done this. It’s been a bit of a leap of faith.”
The Bryncethin RFC pavilion was originally built by volunteers in 1952. The new building has full disabled access to all areas and will be fully compliant with the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) regulations so that it can host playgroups.
The official opening was supported by the Mayor Cllr Stuart Baldwin, Huw Irranca-Davies AM for Ogmore, Chris Elmore MP for Ogmore, and the local member Cllr Gary Thomas who has championed the re-development since its inception.
A total of £128,000 funding towards the project has been awarded by the Welsh Government with support from Bridgend County Borough Council’s Reach Rural Development Team through the Rural Communities Development Fund as Bryncethin is one of 21 wards in the county borough eligible for rural development funding.
Cllr Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Education, said:
“We felt that this exciting project was very well deserving of rural development funding as it will be greatly welcomed by the community. Having a combined rugby club and community hub will be a real asset for Bryncethin residents.
“Not only will the development help the club continue to thrive and encourage a love of rugby among all ages, but it will also mean that the wider community can gather there, socialise, access services and take part in activities.”
The Rural Communities Development Fund received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.
Further information in respect of the Council’s Community Asset Transfer Programme can be obtained by contacting the Community Asset Transfer Officer via email Guy.Smith@bridgend.gov.uk.