Pennygate Foundation has shaken off closure fears by winning permanent planning consent for its Spalding Health and Well-Being Centre.
The charity is a lifeline for the homeless and jobless as well as people who are troubled, fall on hard times or have health problems.
Relieved trustee Brenda Wickham, one of a team of unpaid volunteers, told us: “We are here to stay.
“It’s brilliant news, which seems to have been a long time coming. It has been a big headache since Christmas.”
The charity is celebrating with an open day from 2pm-4pm on Saturday, August 26 so all-comers can check out its services and enjoy a free burger or hot dog.
Pennygate Foundation’s previous planning consent was due to run out in October this year.
But the charity sailed into stormy waters when its retrospective planning application for additional buildings at 204 Pennygate was refused last December – leaving trustees fearing closure with the district council looking poised to take enforcement action.
Planning expert Gordon Smith, from Matrix Planning in Market Deeping, then stepped in to help the foundation sort out an acceptable application, which has just been approved.
Brenda says the key point about the new planning consent is that it is permanent, so the charity won’t have to apply again.
The foundation won the backing of South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes, who earlier this year said: “It’s an important local hub and the commitment and dedication of the people who are helping others is clear, important and praiseworthy.”
The MP also paid tribute to the important work the volunteers do “with all kinds of people from the community”.
District councillor Graham Dark said this week: “I am very pleased they have been given planning permission. I have been aware for three years of the good work that they have been doing within the community and all of the various projects that run out of the foundation.
“They have got considerable support within the community.”
South Holland District Council’s planning decision notice says the consent is for the benefit of Pennygate Foundation alone and the approved use will end if the charity ceases to occupy the premises.
It also says “permission is granted on the basis of the community benefit and services offered”.
Council imposed planning conditions include use of obscure glazing in ground floor rear windows of the community room and meeting room.
The council says the centre’s opening hours will be restricted to 7.30am-10pm Monday-Saturday and 10am-5pm on Sundays – and all events should finish by 9.30pm, with and all those attending leaving by 10pm.
Noise conditions to stop possible nuisance from amplified music have also been imposed.
The foundation’s planning application was backed by service users, including a man in his 90s who praised volunteers for the care they gave to his late wife, who had suffered from dementia.
His touching letter said: “Unfortunately, my wife passed away and at 91 years I am now alone. I miss her dreadfully but at the centre, the people talk to me about her and it helps me in my grief and loneliness of life without her.”
• Pennygate Foundation is looking for volunteers who can spare a little time to help out. Please call 01775 421001 for more information.