ONE of the most popular community centres in the county, with more than 2,500 visitors a week, is set for a £500,000 windfall.
Staff and volunteers have spent four years working on a bid for a Big Lottery Fund grant for Hayling Island Community Centre.
In the 30 years since it was built the centre has never even been painted and is full to capacity.
Tania Jones, the centre manager, said they simply cannot fit in all the community groups that want to use it.
And it has always been a dream to refurbish the centre, in Station Road, and build a two-storey extension to accommodate a cafe and meeting place.
Officially the centre still has to go through a final stage of the application by raising £44,000 towards the total.
But they are very close to their goal, thanks to the generosity of Hayling residents.
The Lions Club of Hayling donated £11,000 and 600 fundraising bricks have been sold at £10 each.
Planning permission has been granted.
Tania said: ‘We are absolutely over the moon.
‘We are a very, very popular community centre and we’re bursting at the seams.
‘We have so many community groups and they can’t expand because there is no room.
‘Unfortunately we’re having to turn groups away.
‘Building the new extension will make a world of difference.
‘We need a lovely cafe area for people to meet and wait.
‘It’s been a long journey to get to where we are now but we’re delighted.’
The Big Lottery Fund has already released £30,000 to fund a professional project management and business plan.
The work should start next spring.
Eighty volunteers keep the centre running.
Walter Taylor is the president.
He said: ‘This place has a great atmosphere.
‘It’s always busy and it’s always buzzing.
‘Tania and Tina Lambert, our administrator, are always organising things and it’s thanks to them we are getting the grant. We are delighted.’
The extension will also provide a disabled toilet on the ground floor, with stairs and a lift leading to the first floor.
Upstairs will house meeting rooms and a kitchenette.
To buy a brick call (023) 9246 7562.