Local charity moves into restored Watch Office at Alconbury Weald

Community charity Groundwork East has moved into its first permanent Cambridgeshire home – the newly restored Watch Office at Alconbury Weald.

Groundwork team  (left to right) Matt Langley, Diana Hedley, Jane Mills, Chris Dungate, Andrea Finbow, and Ashley Lydiate.

The charity, originally from Hertfordshire, had previously occupied space in older buildings on the former airfield site as it established a presence in the county, but having grown to a seven-strong team, it is now celebrating its permanent home. At the same time, the geographical focus of the team has expanded across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. The team works with other Groundwork offices on over 30 projects spanning youth work, family learning, training and skills programmes, benefiting communities across the whole of the east of England.

Built in 1940-41, the Watch Office was the airfield’s first permanent control tower. It was meticulously restored and integrated into the existing development by Urban&Civic. In addition to housing Groundwork, The Watch Office will include a library as well as a community and heritage space, where local people will be able to learn more about the rich history of the site.
Groundwork has been working alongside Urban&Civic on a number of community projects, including the EDGE jobs and skills programme, which helps local people to get into work, and the Construction Skills Centre, which focuses on careers in construction, landscaping and property management employment.

Groundwork has run a number of Green Team programmes, for those who are unemployed, helping them gain experience and qualifications while improving the outdoor areas of local schools and community centres, creating more attractive spaces for local people. These have involved the creation of allotments and a school project to introduce wildlife and bring an outdoor learning area at Alconbury Weald, as well as projects at Coneygear Park in Huntingdon and Abbey in Cambridge.
James Newell, Executive Director of Groundwork East, said: “Thanks to Urban&Civic, Groundwork has finally secured a permanent base in Cambridgeshire in the historic Watch Office. Having a permanent home means we can fully concentrate on delivering projects to improve the lives of local communities. We hope that our long-standing partnership with Urban&Civic will continue to thrive, and our projects will make a noticeable difference to the lives of those based in Cambridgeshire.”
Rebecca Britton, Head of Communities and Partnerships at Urban&Civic, added: “We are delighted to welcome Groundwork East to its first permanent home at the Watch Office. This charity plays an important role in supporting local communities through its hard work, and we’re excited to offer them a space in this building of historical significance, which we’ve restored for the benefit of the local community.”
The recent refurbishment works have given the Watch Office a new lease of life, making this historically significant building one of the focal points of the site once again.
There is a wide selection of further options for businesses looking to call Alconbury Weald home: two incubator hubs offer space for start-ups and SMEs; a nine-acre site earmarked for industrial purposes offers businesses an opportunity to work with Urban&Civic to create a bespoke building to suit their needs; and further space is available in heritage buildings. For more information call 01480 413 141, visit www.alconbury-weald.co.uk, or contact agents Barker Storey Matthews or Savills.

To find out about Groundwork’s local projects or to get involved, visit https://www.groundwork.org.uk

Image: (left to right) Matt Langley, Diana Hedley, Jane Mills, Chris Dungate, Andrea Finbow, and Ashley Lydiate.

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