Did you hear the big news yet?

We are over the moon to share the news that Railway Gardens has been awarded £460,808 from the National Lottery Community Fund! Together with funds already raised, this brings us to over half a million pounds of funding secured – this is a huge testament to the vision and passion of our community, and every single person who has supported and contributed to the project gets a big, virtual, covid-safe high five.

Getting this Lottery funding is obviously a big deal for the project. It took two years from start to finish to secure this grant, including two attempts where we were rejected at the first stage of the application. Our final submission involved an epic 168 page project plan put together with the help of 22 people, and it’s fair to say that, in the run up to the date when the Lottery committee made their decision, we were nervous wrecks and unable to think about anything else!

Although we’ve announced this news on social media, and chatted with some of you at the last community catch up, we wanted to give you a bit more detail on how this funding works, what happens next, and how this massive sum of money breaks down into the different things needed for the project.

The first thing to explain is that we don’t yet have access to the National Lottery grant, and we still need to raise a final chunk of match funding – £154,000 – to ‘unlock’ it. We have applied to a Welsh Government fund for this sum and have reached the final stage of the application process so we are awaiting the outcome of that – we’ll let you know when we know, and please do keep everything crossed!

Once we have raised the remaining funding we can start to use the lottery grant, and we access it in two ways. The money that will be used from project costs such as staff salaries, resources, volunteer costs and events will arrive in chunks, probably every 6 months. The money that will be used for capital costs – so any physical construction – will be paid directly to contractors each time we are invoiced for their work.

In total, the project going forward will cost £694,503 to build the site and run a programme of activities for the first three years. I’ll come back to what happens after three years in a moment, but I want to acknowledge that this is a huge, huge sum of money. When we began this project back in 2015 we had no idea of the kinds of costs and complexities of this kind of project – since then you’ve trusted us to develop Railway Gardens as it grows and we think it’s only fair that you get to see why this epic sum of money is needed and how it will be spent. Below I’ve put together a bit of a breakdown but if you have any questions about any of it then we’d be happy to chat about it in more detail.

The costs are broken down into three categories: Capital, Revenue, and Overheads.

Capital costs. These are the things needed to build the project, the physical and permanent stuff.

Groundworks: £130,000. This includes sustainable drainage, electrics, sewerage, and levelling and preparing the site.

Landscaping: £50,000. This includes wheelchair accessible pathing and surfacing.

Site structures: £141,696. Including the community hub, toilets, and outdoor event and learning spaces.

Green infrastructure: Includes green roofing and solar panels.

Equipment: £8,500: Everything from bike storage to bins, fire alarms to furniture.

Professional and legal fees: £32,450. This includes quite a few different things, including site surveys, solicitors, quantity surveyors, planning feeds and a lot more!

Contractor fees: £44,635. Paying the people who are going to make all this stuff happen!

Contingency: £33,814. This figure represents roughly 10% of the capital costs, and it’s there as a buffer for if (when) unexpected costs pop up.

Revenue costs. These are the specific things needed to run project activities, including people and resources. These figures are the total for three years of revenue costs.

Salaries: £157,424. This will cover two part time roles for three years – a Project Manager role job shared by Green Squirrel’s Becca and Hannah, and a Community Involvement Officer, with recruitment for this 2.5 day/ week role taking place over the summer.

Training: £2,700. This will provide relevant training for staff, volunteers, the advisory group and the EDI group.

Freelance fees: £6,000. This will allow us to bring in tutors, experts and providers to deliver all kinds of exciting and practical community events and training over the project’s first three years.

Travel and other expenses: £12,750. This includes expenses for things such as refreshments to make sure volunteers are well looked after on site, and there’s budget here to support staff and advisory board members to visit, build connections with, and learn from other projects with similar goals.

Accommodation and utilities: £21,496. This is everything needed to keep the site running – power, water, internet, sewerage, waste collection – as well as things like business rates. It also includes our annual £1 rent to Cardiff Council!

Marketing and communications: £8,730. This will be used for things like printing flyers, posters and newsletter, and for a proper project website (as this one is a little bit wobbly).

Welsh translation costs: £3,000. Does what is says on the tin!

Monitoring and evaluation: £4,000. This will allow us to engage photography and videography help, as well as external consulting support, to make sure the project is meeting its outcomes and serving the community as best it can. Having information like this also helps us report to our funders, who obviously want to know that their money is well spent, and share learning with other projects on similar journeys.

Professional and legal fees: £3,000. This is mostly legal fees concerning the site lease and grant funding.

Materials and equipment: £4,500. This includes materials for community workshops and activities as well as play resources.

Overhead costs. These are all the background things needed to keep it all running. These figures are the total for three years of project overheads.

Management overheads: £11,018. This covers Green Squirrel time to do things like payroll, staff recruitment and financial management.

Staff overheads: £6,780. This includes things like laptops, phones, and office equipment.

Accountancy: £1,110.

Software contribution: £900. This covers stuff like our zoom subscription that are needed to run the project.


Still here? Well done for getting through all that!

Finally I wanted to explain what the plan is for the end of the three year Lottery funded period – how will the project become financially independent?


Last year lots of you kindly gave your time to talk to us about ideas for income generation and give your feedback on pricing structures, and this was incredible helpful in building a business plan – while there will probably still be a need for occasional small project specific grants beyond year three, the aim is for Railway Gardens to generate enough income from the site to keep core activities and staff roles going. Ways of raising money will include rent from the business pods, co-working space, market pitches, venue hire, and more. We’ll also be launching a ‘Friends of Railway Gardens’ offer, where local people can make a regular, cup-of-coffee sized donation to support the project in exchange for some perks.

We hope that was helpful! As always, if you have any skills, feedback, ideas or comments that you’d like to share with us then please do get in touch – you can email railwaygardens@greensquirrel.co.uk or use the form below. 


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