THE GO-ahead for a major new grant scheme for Richmondshire has been given – and celebrated with the handing out of the first £70,000 to community projects.

Members of the District Council’s strategy board agreed to create the Communities Opportunity Fund (COF) – and by using money from a national initiative which rewards councils that promote new housing it already has £658,000 in the pot.

Councillors approved grants for six projects - including £45,000 for Colburn Play 2012-2022, a £187,000 scheme to update facilities in eight play parks in the community, part matched funded by Colburn Town Council.

Another £15,000 went towards delivering a new £742,000 sports pavilion shared by Richmond School and Richmond Town Football Club. And there is £3,500 to support a Sunday bus service to the Upper Dales, diverted through Colburn, Catterick and Richmond to provide cheap family tickets for a day out in the country, and concessionary entrance fees at visitor attractions. Richmondshire Area Partnerships received £2000 to top-up funding for a number of small community projects.

COF will use money Government provides under its New Homes Bonus which sees local authorities receive a bonus for each home built - including an extra amount for every affordable house for social rent or shared purchase.

Each project must be sponsored by the local district councillor and have been the subject of consultation with local people.

Applications can be submitted from April 1.