GISBURN Festival Hall has been awarded a £36,000 grant allowing it to install heating and insulation in the main hall.

The long-term future of the hall, in Bentlea Road, Gisburn, hung in the balance due to an inefficient heating system and spiralling fuel costs.

The trust, which oversees the running of the hall, said it was delighted to have been awarded a short-term loan which will be used as cash flow, on the proviso that the hall receives the grant from the Rural Development Programme for England for the work.

The total cost of the work is £48,950.

A village amenities grant of £10,000 has been approved by the Ribble Valley Council and a £2,950 contribution from the hall has already been raised.

Giles Bridge, chairman of the hall, said: “The boiler and central heating system in the hall has become increasingly costly and unreliable.

“Heating costs now account for 40 per cent of total hall expenditure and are expected to be over £3,000 in this financial year.

“The problems with the reliability of the current heating system have caused the hall to lose a number of regular bookings, mainly for fitness-related activities. The long-term viability of the hall is therefore at risk unless we improve the reliability of the heating system and reduce our heating costs.

“The first stage of these plans is to improve the insulation of the main hall, install an air source heat pump and under-floor heating in the hall.”

He said in the longer term, the committee planned to generate the power to run the pump from solar panels.

Councillor Richard Sherras, who represents the Gisburn area, said: “The application was approved, subject to the trust getting the RDPE money.

“I feel the work is a very positive thing and it is helping to secure the future of the building.”

The £36,000 has been awarded as an interest-free cash advance which must be repaid within four months.