Tips for applying for funding for community buildings

Are you looking for funding to build or refurbish a community centre or hub in your area? We’ve put together answers to the most commonly asked questions about applying.

These questions are based on applying to our People and Places Medium programme which offers grants of £10,001 to £100,000 and our People and Places Large programme offers grants of £100,001 to £500,000 for up to five years.

Why is your project important?

We want to fund the projects that are most important to communities. Have you spoken to your community to find out what matters most to them? Watch our video with ideas on how to engage your community:

We want to know that your wider community supports the project you are asking us to fund. You should engage with:

  • the people that use your building (if there is one),
  • people that might want to use the building,
  • other organisations and community groups in your area that might want to use the building,
  • organisations and community groups that could benefit from it.

Try to get them on board as early as possible so they can get meaningfully involved in designing and delivering the project and its activities.

We want to know that your building won’t duplicate what other local facilities are doing. If your building is already in use, tell us how your project will improve your service.

How will your project help your community?

Think about the strengths already in your community and how you can use them to increase the impact of your project. You should think about where people in your community meet, who group leaders are, and what skills they have that could help you. If your community already has a building that you would like to improve, think about what makes it unique and how it can be enhanced.

Do an options appraisal for the capital work

An options appraisal should give details of all the options you have considered. This should include leaving things as they are, moving to a different building, sharing a building, adapting an existing building, or providing transport to an existing nearby building.

For example, if you are thinking of applying for a village hall then think about whether there is an underused facility nearby instead. You should also include an estimated cost and a risk assessment for each option as we need to see that the building will be good value for money.

Managing the facility

You should consider who will manage the facility. This includes who will be responsible for the wear and tear of the building, and how your organisation could generate income for overheads and bills. Consider how you will ensure ongoing use of the building. For example, if lots of organisations will use it you may want to create a timetable to show how the facility would be used in the long-term.

How detailed does your plan need to be?

If you’re applying to People and Places large grants then you need a building design and building professionals ready before you send us your stage one application.

If you’re applying to People and Places medium grants then you’ll need to make sure that your project is at RIBA stage 4. You’ll also need to make sure that you get three quotes for the work.

If you need support with the costs of building professionals and plans, you can apply for a Capital Development grant. This can be used for professional fees, surveys, feasibility study, statutory fees and anything else that would support your project to get to RIBA Stage 4. Talk to us if you’re interested in applying for a Capital Development grant.

Ownership of land and buildings

We would expect for you to own the land either by freehold or leasehold before making an application. If you have ownership by leasehold then the length of time that it needs to be in place for depends on the amount of the grant that you are requesting from us. Talk to use about this before making an application.

Examples of what’s already been funded before?

A good example of a community building funded by National Lottery players is Parish of St Thomas in Swansea. They received £250,000 to redevelop the church into a community hub.

With their community they found that there wasn’t a space to meet, get support and volunteer. The community felt that the building was an ideal place for all the services and opportunities they wanted and needed to help them. They created a plan to transform the interior and add another floor to make full use of the building. The redevelopment will provide a place for charities, a space for their food bank, and a new kitchen for the local school and groups to use. The second floor will be used for community events and traditional services.

Watch Stephen Bunting, the vicar at Parish of St Thomas talk about their work in our video below:


Clwb Rygbi Bethesda in Gwynedd received £250,000 of National Lottery money towards converting their existing, rundown clubhouse into a hub for their local community. Over 20 organisations from the local community use the building to meet regularly, including schools, local businesses and community groups. They worked with each of these groups to understand how they could improve the building to meet their breadth of needs.

In 2019 they also received a National Lottery Climate Action Top-up grant of £10,000 to make their building more environmentally friendly. Read more about their Climate Action top-up grant.

Our detailed Land and buildings guidance and further information are available on our People and Places webpages.

Find out more about People and Places Medium grants.

Find out more about People and Places Large grants.

Talk to us

If you’re applying to us for funding to improve or build a community building, please talk to us first. Contact us on 029 2168 0214 or and we’ll put you in touch with a Funding Officer in your local area.

If you have a hearing or speech impairment you can use text relay 18001 plus 029 2168 0214 and BSL users can contact us in Wales using SignVideo

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