Village Hall Update April 2017

As promised last month, the Project Team has looked closely at all the feedback received from the community and from Chichester DC. The following provides a summary of the team’s views:

Chichester DC: The pre-application meeting with CDC Planning and Heritage officers was mostly encouraging. A few concerns were raised which we have referred back to our architect. Although not binding on any formal decision, we were encouraged by the general tone of the discussion.

Solar Panels: We have previously raised this possibility with Chichester DC who rejected the idea as the Hall is Grade II listed. However we will be looking closely at other 'green' options.

Location of Kitchen: The suggestion that the kitchen is re-located where there is more natural light available at ground level has been referred back to our architect who will look again at the internal layout at the east end where the single storey extension is planned. The Committee Room is not seen as a suitable alternative location for the kitchen.

Disabled Access to Committee Room: Two things are already planned. First the current Emergency Exit door in the Committee Room will be made into a lockable Entrance/Exit door so that access can be gained from the church path. Secondly, there will be an internal ramp up from the Hall level to the Committee Room level.

Disabled Access to upper floor: The proposed staircase meets all necessary standards for access by ambulant disabled (people with walking difficulties) with low risers and wide steps. We have looked closely with our professional advisers at how we might find sufficient space for a wheelchair lift, but we are unable to accommodate this.

Parking: The Team is aiming to achieve a neutral position with regard to the number of parking spaces at the Hall via a re-design of the space available in the car park, i.e. maintaining the same number of parking spaces as at present. Clearly though, in the interests of health and safety, there will be restrictions on parking at the hall while any works are being undertaken.

Noise and Traffic: Earlier advice from the Parish Council was that the village hall is likely to be located at its present site for the foreseeable future as it is central, convenient and easily accessed by the village community.

The Hall buildings are substantially the same as they have been for the last 40 years with only minor works having been carried out. Put simply, the Hall is not fit for purpose in today’s society and does not meet many of the regulations in respect of disabled access, hygiene and energy efficiency.  Modernisation is therefore the way forward to create a facility that is fit for purpose today and for the future.

 Essentially, we are proposing a major refurbishment and re-configuration informed by the feedback from our hirers and village residents, via the Neighbourhood Plan surveys and consultations, aimed at meeting current and anticipated future needs.  We are not, in effect, proposing to increase the lettable space and do not anticipate a significant increase in use so issues of noise and traffic/parking will not be worsened. The Hall Committee will continue to control use of the Hall. Any additional users will be strictly vetted.

 The Hall Committee remains committed to the principle that the Hall is there for the benefit of our community. Hire by persons/ groups beyond our parish boundaries are already strictly controlled.  We also have noise limiting technology installed in the main Hall.

Finance & Funding: I think it may be helpful for people to understand a little more about financing and funding for the Hall. The Village Hall is a Charitable Trust with its own monies, derived mainly from lettings income and the monthly draw club. The Trust is supervised by 8 Trustees, and managed through a Hall Committee. It is completely independent of the Parish Council, although the Parish Council has an interest in the Hall as its landlord. The Parish Council also supports the Hall in the same way as it does many other local groups and facilities within the community. The Trust Deed requires the monies held by the Hall Trustees/Committee to be spent on the Hall for the benefit of the community. Money cannot be spent outside the Trust.

Funding for the modernisation will come principally from the generous bequest made to the Trust by Laurence Knight, together with funds that the Hall Committee has been setting aside over the years to carry out any capital projects that may be required. The funds that we hold place us in a strong position to “cash match” when we apply for various grants to top up the funds.  In order to complete the modernisation, some local fundraising may be necessary in order to equip the Hall with more modern décor, furniture, kitchen appliances and other internal fixtures and fittings.

Next Steps: The Project Team will meet again once our architect has updated the plans. We shall then begin to put together all the supporting material required to make a formal planning application to Chichester DC.

I shall report further progress as and when needed.

 

Keith Carter
Chairman, Village Hall Management Committee