Viva awarded more than £80,000 to transform derelict Spencer Mill into cultural hub for the community

The Spencer Mill could become a major new arts centre for East Cambs.

The Spencer Mill could become a major new arts centre for East Cambs. - Credit: Archant

A community arts group has been awarded a grant of more than £80,000 to transform a derelict mill in Soham into a cultural hub.

Viva Arts and Community Group will use the £83,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to bring the Spencer Mill back to life.

The “hugely ambitious” project will allow the group to develop plans and apply for a full grant of £608,200.

Campaigners say it will create jobs, help local people develop transferable skills and once again position the Mill building as an “important contributor to the local economy”.

Viva’s director, Daniel Schumann, said: “This is a hugely ambitious project with enormous potential to bring significant and lasting positive economic and community benefits to Soham and the surrounding area.

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“This first round pass and development grant is a major step forward and we are thrilled that the National Lottery has given us this amazing opportunity and cannot thank them enough for their support.”

The Spencer Mill project, which is also supported by £180,000 of monies from the Community Infrastructure Levy controlled by East Cambridgeshire District Council, hopes to renovate the Spencer Mill and return it to its former glory for the area as a “self-sustaining community asset”.

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The funding was sourced to help raise the match funding required to apply for the National Lottery Grant.

Councillor David Brown, chair of the Resources and Finance Committee at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “East Cambridgeshire District Council is delighted to support the Spencer Mill project which will provide additional value to community life in Soham.

“Our ambition to make the district a great place to live, work and visit is the reason why we’re proud to back this and other worthwhile projects, and we cannot wait to see it being used by the community.”

The Mill is a rare survivor of a once thriving milling industry employing many people, shaping the town and its economy.

Viva’s vision is to create a community theatre with a vibrant programme as well as a community space that is available for hire by the community.

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