Community Buildings

There are 9000 village halls in England with a total asset value of more than £2.1 billion, representing the largest network of community-owned facilities in rural Britain.

The term “village hall” covers a range of rural buildings including church halls and community centres, in which a variety of community activity takes place. The key to the continuing survival of Britain’s village halls are the volunteer management committee who have to deal with an increasing burden of legislation yet, manage to keep their halls financially sustainable mostly by earning their own income and fundraising.

We believe that village and community buildings provide an extremely valuable community resource and that they lie at the heart of community life as a meeting place in which activities can take place. They provide vital and diverse support to improve quality of life, particularly for those who are least able to travel.

Rural Action Yorkshire supports all community buildings which are run for the benefit of their local community and can advise you on ways to improve the management of your building, or on a range of maintenance queries.

A wide range of resources to help with the smooth running of your Rural Community Building can be found on our Community Building Resources Page. Some of these resources are only available to RAY members - find out more about membership here.

We also manage the website

Read case studies from our Community Hubs project.

Related stories

The dedicated band of specialist advisers who support England’s 10,000 rural village halls are holding their annual training event in Exeter next week. The two-day event, from April 29-30, brings together village hall advisers from 34 counties from Devon to Durham to share their knowledge and best practice. It is being organised by village hall advisers from across the South West with the support of Action with Communities in Rural England, which is the umbrella organisation for rural community councils including Rural Action Yorkshire.

Each month our eBulletin features a question that one of our members has asked us to help them with. This month, a village hall has contacted us in response to a story we carried in last month's eBulletin about the European Commission's review of VAT law. They are concerned that a drive to simplify VAT law will result in certain charitable organisations and public bodies having their exemption from VAT removed and would see the existing zero-rating of new building work ended.

Calderdale Council and Cabinet has recently voted to approve a report which recommended reducing the amount of Discretionary Rate Relief provided to charities, in response to changes in the support provided by central Government to local councils who provide business rate relief. The changes are expected to save the council over £50,000 a year when they come into effect from April 2015.

In May 2013 the Charity Commission published a consultation on how to develop the annual return questionnaire and what to publish on the register of charities. The correspondence was open for eight weeks and had 243 responses.

The Home Office is seeking views on proposals to change how Licensing Fees are set. This will include devolving the setting of fee levels to local licensing authorities, regulating to what extent different premises can be charged different fees, setting maximum levels for fees, and potentially introducing a single license payment and renewal date. The consultation, which is of clear relevance to rural community buildings and businesses, closes on Thursday 10 April 2014.

Each month our eBulletin features a question that one of our members has asked us to help them with. This month, a village hall has contacted us to help with valuing their land. A developer is building a house on a plot of land at the rear of the hall, and they need to purchase a strip of the hall's land to provide an access road to the new building. The hall are happy to sell, but how do they know how much the land is worth?

Would you like to help RAY plan our future work? Do you know lots about your community building, the needs of your residents or just enjoy thinking through new solutions for rural issues? Then we would love to hear from you.

Rural Actions Yorkshire's parent organisation, Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE), is carrying out a survey designed to help gain a clearer picture of how a wide range of issues are affecting rural community buildings such as village halls. The deadline for completing the survey is 24 March 2014, and RAY is urging all village halls and other community buildings in rural Yorkshire to take this opportunity to have their say.

The European Commission is carrying out a review of legislation that governs the application of VAT, including what exemptions and rebates national governments are free to make in the public interest. RAY's umbrella organisation, ACRE, has indicated that the review could see the removal of zero-rated status from new-build community buildings such as village halls and have financial implications for Parish Councils. The consultation is open until Friday 25 April 2014.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is consulting on proposals to further relax entertainment licensing regulations. The consultation, which is aimed specifically at community groups and village halls, among others, is open until 17 December 2013.

Village halls and other community buildings across rural North Yorkshire are being invited to send representatives to an event showcasing the experiences of seven groups which have been supported by Rural Action Yorkshire in turning their community building into a Community Hub where all aspects of community life take place. The event will be held on Saturday 23 November at Pannal Village Hall near Harrogate.

Whenever you contact Rural Action Yorkshire or use one of our services, please take five minutes to let us know how helpful we have been or where we could improve. We'll use the results to make sure we're investing our time in providing the resources that our members and other service users need most.

Rural Action Yorkshire's Community Buildings email network has just signed up its 100th member. The network allows RAY to share important information with those running community buildings and enables community buildings to share ideas, problems and experiences with one another.

Action With Communities in Rural England (ACRE), the umbrella body for the country's Rural Community Councils, including Rural Action Yorkshire, has published its annual report detailing how it has spent grant money allocated to it by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) during 2012-13. The report shows that £2.8m of government money has enabled a further £8.4m of funding to benefit rural communities across the country.

PRS for Music and PPL are carrying out a survey to gauge the feeling of those involved in running community buildings about the current arrangements for licensing music to be played in such venues. The survey closes on 4 October 2013.

Yorkshire Water has established a Speakers Panel of specially trained members of staff who volunteer to talk community and voluntary groups in their area and offer water-saving advice too.

North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) regularly requires the use of space for meetings and training events across the County.  This results in significant spend in this area for the council. 

Current arrangements between venues and the council are on an ad hoc basis with no single set of terms and conditions and rates.  This raises difficulties and confusion for both the council and the venue. 

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced that a £17m funding programme is to be opened up to more community groups to make it easier for communities to build their own homes, shops, playgrounds and other projects.

HM Treasury is consulting on proposals to change aspects of the regulation of Industrial and Provident Societies, usually known as cooperative.

Free Community Building Training

Do you look after a village hall or community building in North Yorkshire? As part of the Rural Voice project we are running five free training sessions in September covering: