Windfall of £165,000 will pay for vital upgrade work at Kentish Town City Farm
- Credit: Archant
Facilities at Kentish Town City Farm are set for an upgrade after it received a windfall of more than £150,000.
The charity in Cressfield Road – which was recently the subject of a petition to secure its future – is one of three community organisations in Gospel Oak awarded significant sums by Camden Council this week.
The farm will use its cash injection of £167,000 to build a new log cabin, install a much-needed new drainage system and make improvements to the electrics and fire alarm systems.
Director Mick Magennis said the money was “very, very welcome” and would benefit “the local and wider Camden community”, although it will not ease all of the charity’s financial pressures as the money is ring-fenced for capital investment.
“We’re over the moon,” the director said. “There’s a backlog of improvements that we need to make: nothing glamorous, but absolutely essential.”
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Mr Magennis said improved drainage could bring the riding arena into use in wet weather, when it is often out of bounds.
He added: “We are hoping the log cabin will give us additional capacity, because we’re attracting a lot of corporate groups, which puts pressure on our buildings when schools are here.
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“We’re trying to develop more sustainable streams of income to fund our charity work and corporate bookings are one way of doing that.”
The farm, which was the first of its kind in the country when it opened in 1972, was hit with a £40,000 budget reduction as Camden Council made a raft of cuts in 2011, bringing its annual grant down to £87,000.
But the charity last summer distanced itself from a petition set up to “save” the farm, which was criticised by Camden Council’s finance boss Cllr Theo Blackwell.
Cllr Blackwell said it was “scaremongering” and that the farm was not at threat of closure. The online petition has now received more than 7,850 signatures.
Queen’s Crescent Community Association is also set to receive Section 106 cash, which is handed over to the council to compensate for the impact of large building projects on the community.
The association will receive £85,000 towards a revamp of an old play centre in Weedington Road, which is set to reopen in the summer.
St Martin’s Church, in Vicar’s Road, has been awarded £50,000 towards kitchen and toilet refurbishments, essential maintenance and upgrades to the church grounds.
The remaining £40,000, out of a total community grants package of about £342,000, goes towards improvements at the community hall on the Bacton Low Rise estate.
Cllr Phil Jones, cabinet member for planning, said: “By supporting these organisations through funding, we’re able to ensure they can continue to provide their much-valued services and facilities to residents.”