A FORMER police station is a step closer to a new lease of life after a community group received a cash boost to develop ideas to transform it.

Active Communities has received £10,000 from Renfrewshire Council’s Community Empowerment Fund towards its plan to take over ownership of the former Johnstone police station.

It is one of three projects to receive support from the first round of applications for the new fund, which is open to community groups who want to take over and run a local building or piece of land.

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Councillors also approved £10,000 to Paisley Community Trust as it develops a business case to turn the old Arnotts site into a cinema, arts and theatre venue.

And West End Growing Grounds Association received £20,000 to help it relocate to Underwood Road.

Starting out 15 years ago as a Paisley walking and jogging group, Active Communities now delivers community sport, health and wellbeing classes to more than 700 people each week, and has a school programme and a youth volunteering initiative.

Its idea to convert the station building into a health and wellbeing centre has received funds for a feasibility study. Plans include a space for Kairos, an initiative which supports vulnerable women facing social barriers and a men’s shed project, to help with social connections.

The station kitchen may be adapted to offer training in cookery and healthy eating and there are plans for community meeting rooms.

“The more we have grown and the greater the demand, we were keen to have a central hub so we can deliver lots more activities,” said Susan McDonald, Active Communities manager.

“Downstairs would be space for our classes and upstairs would be office space for ourselves and for other community organisations who are looking to grow.

“There’s been great support from the Johnstone community and it is really exciting that we’re one step closer.

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“Our classes and activities are about having fun and helping tackle loneliness and isolation. We aim to encourage people who wouldn’t see themselves as sporty. We will have space for a drop-in where people can join us for a cuppa and a chat and find out what is available.”

The group are also in discussions with Police Scotland over the transfer.
Inspector Cassie Glass said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the local community in terms of health and wellbeing and a very appropriate use of our former police station. We wish them every success.”

The Gazette:

Council leader Iain Nicolson is backing the campaign 

Iain Nicolson, Renfrewshire Council leader, said: “Everyone in Renfrewshire wants their own town or village to thrive and we believe local communities are key to their success.

“That’s why this fund has been created, to empower all community groups – whether firmly established or just starting out – to come forward with their ideas and we will do all we can to help them along the way.”