Riverside Centre Project
The history of the site as a project is a complex one going back to the 1960s.
It involved many dedicated members of the community: campaigners for the land, trustees for the development and trustees as leaseholders and site managers.
All was with much volunteer involvement with personal and some financial sacrifice.
The original vision was to simply save the site from developers and a conservation group regularly challenged the council and developers to protect the site.
As volunteers ourselves for six years now, Upper Calder Valley Renaissance (UCVR) fully understand and respect all those who have contributed to the original conservation project.
The second phase in the late 1970s and early 1980s was to buy the land off the council and ensure it was used in the best interests of the community. A sports association had been formed in Walsden and the conservation group chose to offer it to them on a peppercorn lease to develop into a multi-sport and recreational venue.
It took another 20 challenging years to plan and develop the site. By this time the multi-sports concept was abandoned, leaving the site being used by just one sport, football. The archives show this was a disappointing outcome for the conservation group trustees, as it was not quite their vision for use by the wider community.
By 2015 sadly those founding trustees had all passed away. This left the site in legal limbo with the conservation group now called Todmorden Civic Society (TCS) not wanting the liability of ownership. The site needed a legal entity to keep it under local trusteeship.
TCS offered the site to Calderdale but were told that they were already asset transferring sites to community clubs. So UCVR, as a local organisation, stepped up to ensure that the site did not end up in the hands of an out-of-town developer.
On taking custodianship of the site in 2016, our main objective was to source funding for overdue essential maintenance to the facilities. In the last five years we have, with limited resources, managed to undertake a maintenance and repair schedule on the building and site. Many basic safety and repairs have been done, however there is still much more modernisation to do, to meet the expectations of our current and future users.
UCVR spotted an opportunity with the government proposal to offer Todmorden up to £25m for investment in regeneration projects. We had to fight to get the site brought into the project map, but eventually, persuasive lobbying was successful. The next challenge was to present a credible bid which we did, and in January 2022 we heard we had been successful.
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