A COMMUNITY share offer has been launched giving people the chance to become a member of Otley's new community hub.

After recently securing a £300,000 grant from the government’s Community Ownership Fund, the group looking to buy Otley Methodist Church and turn it into a community hub are now looking to raise the remaining funds through a community share offer.

Community shares give local people to invest in the projects that truly inspire them. In return, investors will become members of Friends of the Wesley Otley Limited (FOTWOL), the Community Benefit Society (CBS) that has been set up to run Otley Common.

All members will get to vote on decisions around how the society is run, regardless of how much they have invested. Investors will also get the option to receive interest on their investment as Otley Common becomes commercially successful.

Otley Common has had two local accountants work thoroughly for almost a year to create financial forecasts for the first five years of operation – with forecasts showing that investors will be receive a targeted 6.25 per cent interest rate on their investment from four years after the group takes ownership of the building.

The group has also received the Community Shares Standard Mark – this rigorous independent assessment verifies that the numbers are accurate and due diligence has been carried out.

A spokesperson for the project said: "Community share offers are becoming an increasingly common way for local people to purchase and control essential assets in their towns. HEART in Headingley is a striking example of this. The Headingley Development trust that owns and runs that building have raised over £500k through two share offers in order to renovate that building and to start up other community projects, including purchasing a local greengrocer and expanding Headingley Homes.

"The Otley Common share offer is looking to raise a total of £571,700 before September through this share offer. After opening for investment on Friday a great start has been made, with over £40,000 already committed."

To celebrate the launch of the share offer, the Otley Common team welcomed Otley Chamber of Trade to the building on Friday evening for a presentation of their plans and a tour of the building.

The spokesperson added: "The approximately 40 people who attended were all suitably impressed and enthusiastic about the development. Local town councillor Mick Bradley, who was in attendance, was particularly impressed with 'the Otley Common’s sustainability ambitions' and also talked about 'how Otley has been crying out for a large-scale community hub since the closure of the Civic Centre'.

"There will be a series of open days and events announced soon, for more details on these and the project in general, and to learn how you can invest, visit: www.otleycommon.org"