A GROUP aiming to help tackle social isolation is edging closer to realising its plans of creating a community workshop by transforming an old toilet block in Fordingbridge.

Fordingbridge Town Council discussed updates on the Avon Valley Shed proposal during a meeting last week.

Avon Valley Shed hope to repair and refurbish the building to create a space to make and mend items, and share and learn skills.

Questions had been raised at a previous meeting over whether there would be a need to apply for a change of use for the site in order for the group to use the site but the meeting heard this was not needed.

Ian Lemon, of Avon Valley Shed, said the project had already “generated an awful lot of interest” in the community, adding: “We’d like to try and move this forward and progress it.”

Gary Knight, from the group, said: “We’ve been trying to set this up for two years. We’ve had various offers that didn’t amount to anything. We are very keen to get it going.”

Councillor Malcolm Adams said the council should give the group the go-ahead to use the building as soon as possible and not keep “dragging it on”.

Councillor Paul Anstey said the council should draw up a lease agreement as soon as possible. He also questioned whether the electricity supply would be suitable, which Mr Lemon said the group would look at further but felt it was “adequate” for their needs.

The council has agreed to allow the group to use the building on the recreation ground, subject to confirmation it will not be needed for storage. A lease agreement will need to be signed before the project can progress further.

Mr Lemon said: “I want to thank everyone very much for your support. We won’t let you down and will do everything we can to make this a success to the benefit of Fordingbridge.”

The Avon Valley Shed is open to both men and women. It also hopes to run different sessions to be a resource for everyone, including sessions for children interested in developing wood work skills or crafting.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Knight said: “What we want to do is create a group where people can come along and get involved with a little bit of crafting or pop in for a chat and have a cup of tea.”

He said the group want to create a “welcoming atmosphere” and provide a space for people who feel socially isolated. A meeting is being arranged by Avon Valley Shed to discuss the plans.

The mayor of Fordingbridge, Edward Hale said: “I am pleased the town council has been able to help the Avon Valley Shed group as I know the members have been working hard to establish the group and find a suitable location. It will also be good that the former toilet block on the Recreation Ground has a worthwhile function in the future.”

Anyone wishing to find out more about joining the group is asked to email avonvalleyshed@gmail.com. Avon Valley Shed is also urging any businesses interested in sponsoring the group to also get in touch.