Lyde Green Community Centre

This case study is an example of the first newly built community centre on a major housing development in Bristol, South Gloucestershire.

Location: Bristol


Lyde Green is a new development in South Gloucestershire, built next to the existing village of Emersons Green. The development, 2400 homes and a science park, then called Emersons Green East, was identified in the 2006 South Gloucestershire Core Strategy. (4)

Lyde Green Community Centre opened in September 2018. It includes a hall, meeting rooms, a treatment room and a café. It is run by a local community organisation, the Lyde Green Community Association.

Project details

Lyde Green Community Centre is the first newly built community centre on a major housing development in 15 years in South Gloucestershire. When the Section 106 agreement was agreed, over 10 years ago, the council had a team that ran community centres. However since then the council has made a decision to pass management of community centres to other groups. The council therefore had no in-house expertise to develop and work out a management strategy for the Community Centre when detailed planning and construction started. One officer commented: “this has been a real challenge, we’ve had to develop an internal working group to take forward making it happen”.

The Lyde Green Community Association began life as a small group of residents who wanted to organise a Christmas get-together to generate a sense of community in a new area. In 2017 they became a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) and now have a number of active volunteers and over 100 members.

The Community Centre is run by a part time Community Development and Centre Manager, working three days a week on a two-year contract. This post was appointed in November 2017, almost a year before the centre opened. Two part-time Centre Assistants also started work in Autumn 2018. Occupancy rates for the rooms are higher in the first three months than anticipated, regular activities include pilates, zumba, martial arts, children’s football, walking netball, JumpFit and Boogie Bounce. There are a range of groups and activities for parents and young children, plus a number of activities for adults including guitar lessons, mediation, women’s empowerment, wheelchair dancers, and music workshops. Local groups use the space to meet.

Key Details


Income for the centre is from a number of sources, including from the café and room rental.
In 2017-18 grants were received from the Big Lottery Fund, Emersons Green Town Council and Sovereign Housing (totalling around £45,000). Small grants were given by Taylor Wimpey (who are developing homes at Lyde Green) and Knightstone Housing.

Community involvement

Events and community consultation, as well as good communication with residents, have been essential to the successful opening of the Community Centre.
An active website – – has been set up.

Who are the key stakeholders involved?

● South Gloucestershire Council
● Emersons Green Town Council
● Live West Housing Association (formerly Knightstone)
● Sovereign Housing Association
● Lyde Green School

Impact: What are the outcomes? Who benefits?

The outcomes of the Community Centre and active residents group will be to improve social connections in the development, to support vulnerable residents, to support families, children and young people, and to build a sense of belonging and neighbourliness in a new housing development.

For South Gloucestershire Council the outcome has also been to understand how to support the development of a successful community centre without dedicated staff, through team working.

So what?

What are the risks and challenges for initiating and also maintaining this initiative?

The risks of any community centre development are sustainability, especially financial, and ensuring good use by wide range of local people. These two are interlinked.

The risks for the council were of supporting a new community centre without a dedicated officer and how the housing enabling team could take on this wider function through working collaboratively with other teams.

Key learning

The community centre is supported by staff who were appointed before the centre opened, giving time to plan activities and local profile. This was possible through grant funding.

The residents group who have taken over management have been key to the success of the centre. It is important to grow and nurture this community capacity before handing over responsibility of an asset.

The time between planning consent and delivery on big developments means that Section 106 commitments may not be delivered for several years – and organisational capacity among responsible agencies may change over this period. This example shows how a flexible response, bringing together a working group of different officers, substituted for a specialist post.

Source/s of information:

1. Lyde Green Community Association website;
2. Oxford Architects “Centre of a New Suburb”;
3. Lyde Green Website;
4. REPORT: South Gloucestershire Cores Strategy 2006-2026;