A cash injection of £72,000 will help breathe life into a former island school, which is set to become the new Portland Community Venue.

The town council purchased the building earlier this year to set up a multi-purpose community facility for the island, and will be using the LEADER grant money to pay for essential upgrades to the building.

Work is already underway at the old Brackenbury school site at Three Yards Close which the town council says will eventually be home to much-needed services for Underhill and the rest of the island.

A cheque was presented by the Southern Dorset Local Action Group, which allocates the LEADER grant funds to help improve jobs and economic development in rural communities.

Portland town councillor Susan Cocking, who is project lead for the new centre, said: "This grant funding will help us achieve our vision for the new Portland Community Venue - it will make a huge difference to people's lives. The money is being spent on helping us make the building fit for purpose as well as adding new facilities.

She added: "When the new centre opens it will give people access to broadband, scanners and a printer so that anyone who may not have the internet at home can get online. We will have parent and toddler groups, 0-5 childcare from Allsorts nursery, Island Community Action lunches, a life skills drop-in for young islanders, rooms to hire for classes and a hall for events and larger gatherings."

The council also said it is creating a new community kitchen and a outdoor play area at the site, as well as a separate kitchen for the nursery to provide hot food to pupils. The building is being equipped with a consulting room, which means there is potential for sexual health services for the island to be reinstated when the facility is up and running.

It will also become the permanent home of Portland Town Council.

Cllr Cockings said: "Relocating the town council into a permanent new home will make life easier for residents when the changes to local councils happen next year."