NEWS that Ledbury's old youth centre is to get a new lease of life as the new base for the Busy Bees Pre-school has been warmly welcomed by the local community.

Emma Davis, manager of Busy Bees, while revealing the planned move of Busy Bees from the Ledbury Primary site to the former youth centre, off Bye Street, told the Reporter that one aim was to "breathe life back into the building".

Detailed plans are still to be presented by Busy Bees; but on the Facebook site, Voice of Ledbury, Miss Davis revealed that a fund-raising drive was already underway and an open day would take place, as soon as the new location was ready.

Some funding could come from Tesco's Community Fund, where shoppers vote for community projects with blue tokens. Busy Bees is already preparing its application for Tesco funding.

Local shopper, Tracy Greatwood said: "Well, I would definitely put my blue token in!"

Miss Davis added: "This project is a big deal for Busy Bees and requires significant investment on our part. Unfortunately, funds are not as readily available as they once were to support refurbishments like this, hence our fundraising efforts.

"There’s lots of work to do to make it a safe and fun place for children to play and learn, but we’re determined to make a success of it. We hope it will be a big asset to the community once we’ve worked our magic.

"We’re planning an open day so everyone will be welcome to come along and see what we’ve done to the building once we’ve finished."

The closure of the large 1960s building, off Bye Street, has long been a contentious issue in the town, with hard questions being asked about the situation by members of the public at the 2015 annual town meeting.

Former town mayor, Cllr Phil Bettington fought a battle to keep the building open when Herefordshire Council announced its closure on cost grounds, back in 2013; but he estimated that £150,000 would be needed for repairs.

In 2015, at the annual town meeting, Cllr Liz Harvey expressed concerns that the building did not meet modern disabled access regulations.

But last year the building was used again, as the base for the Halo Leisure gym, during extensive renovations to the town's swimming pool and leisure centre, at Lawnside.

News of the Busy Bees project has led to an enthusiastic response from local people.

Posting on the Voice of Ledbury, mum Kayleigh Morgan said: " I have a child in busy bees and am really pleased they found suitable accommodation to continue their work. It will also be nice to see the building being used often again. Apparently work has already begun to get it ready for the little ones."

And Tim Smith said: "It's the perfect building for them, and it's been stood unused for too long."

Pauline Halford called it "a brilliant use of the building" and she added, "it’s great for Ledbury that the building will be used and maintained".

Another reason for the planned move is the fact that Ledbury is set to be an expanding town, with almost 2000 more new homes on the cards, over the next few years.