MORE than £1.8million has been allocated to Dorchester projects in efforts to enhance the town.

Eight projects in and around the county town will receive the funding in the next year, with progress of the projects being regularly monitored.

Maltings Art Centre will receive £1million; Great Field Poundbury will receive £220,786 for new recreation facilities and Shire Hall will receive £84,000.

Dorchester Rugby Club will receive £150,000 for clubhouse improvements; Dorchester Town Football Club will receive £252,000 for an artificial turf pitch; Dorset County Museum will receive £134,000 for the visual arts and performance area; Dorchester Amateur Boxing Club will receive £25,000 for new club facilities and Dorchester Town Council will receive £8,300 for a climbing rock.

The total allocated was £1,874,086.

The unanimous decision was made by the West Dorset District Council executive committee.

Leader of the council, Cllr Anthony Alford said: "There is a process, our developers suggest a contribution for improvements for the town and the surrounding idea for money to be allocated to.

"The recommendations in the report were all agreed as we thought it will make create a great difference and improvement to the town - a positive outcome."

The funding will be limited to a 12-month period with the potential to extend the offer of funding for an additional 12-month period subject to a review by the committee of the progress made by each project against agreed targets.

To inform the allocation of developer contributions, the district council, in partnership with Dorchester Town Council, undertook a thorough audit of
sports and cultural facilities and community venues in 2014. 

This audit included site visits, meetings with club representatives and some consultation with governing bodies for sport.

In addition to the major projects, the audit identified many other smaller projects for the enhancement of existing facilities - including new accommodation for Dorchester Amateur Boxing Club.

The audit also highlighted the lack a significant, high-quality arts or theatre venue which is designed and fitted out for this purpose.

The nearest such venue is the Pavilion theatre in Weymouth.

Dorchester RFC chairman, Nick Hodge said: "We are very pleased and excited with the announcement of this award of £150,000 from West Dorset District Council and we look forward to revealing our plans for spending the money once we have consulted fully with our members.

"This is an amazing opportunity to future proof and improve our facilities to benefit the community

"This will provide support to our rugby ambitions across all age groups and with the growth in the area, an ever growing junior section, this will only benefit all involved with the club"