Merton Council has opened up its Neighbourhood Fund, worth approximately £1 million, for bids that seek to enhance community spaces and improve social capital across the borough.
The fund is a great opportunity for community groups, voluntary sector, charities, and other organisations across the borough to make meaningful improvements to their area. Some of last year’s successful bids managed to get funding for:
- A new arts centre at Cricket Green School
- A refurbishment for Bramcote Parade in Mitcham
- Improvements to the Windmill Museum in Wimbledon
- Sustainable Merton’s Community Fridge programme
- A new BAME Community Hub in Cricket Green
- A contribution towards the Polka Theatre redevelopment
The funding for the Neighbourhood Fund comes from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) – which is money developers are required to pay as part of planning consent to support the demands their development will place on the local area.
In order to be successful, a bid should be backed by a ward councillor, help to deliver a priority from Merton’s Community Plan, and align with one or more of the local neighbourhood priorities as outlined in our Neighbourhood CIL consultation. Most importantly, the council will be looking for proposals that deliver the overarching objective of the Community Plan of building social capital and bridging the gap in resilience and wellbeing between different communities in terms of priorities for investment.
The funding is for larger, but quickly deliverable projects. Therefore, bids should aim to be over £20,000 and capable of being started within the year ahead.
The council is keen to see bids from more grassroots community groups and individuals from right across the borough this year, as the need for community investment is greater than it has been for a long time. Anyone can make a bid, but they must have the approval of all parties with a legal interest in the land, asset or service that is the subject of the bid.
If in doubt, you are encouraged to make a bid anyway – the application should only take 15–30 mins, and it could make a world of difference to your local area.
The window to submit your bid will close on Friday 10 September 2021. Merton’s Cabinet will decide which bids are successful in November 2021, with funding set to be released to successful bidders from autumn 2021 through to early 2022.
You can find out more about the criteria, and how to bid at merton.gov.uk/neighbourhoodfund
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and the Climate Emergency, Councillor Martin Whelton, said: “Our Neighbourhood Fund is a fantastic opportunity for community organisations, voluntary sector and charities to get the money they need to make a real difference to their local area.
“Over the past 18 months it has been tremendously difficult for many of our residents but especially our charitable and voluntary sectors who have faced particularly tough financial conditions. This fund cannot solve every financial challenge, but we hope it will prove to be the lifeline that many organisations need to carry important community projects forward.
“We would urge organisations and charities to apply to the fund as, if a project benefits the community and meets our criteria, it’s more likely than not to be successful. Merton officers and your local ward councillors are here to advise you on your bid, so please do contact them if you’ve got a project in mind, as the fund is available to fund worthy projects.”