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As submitted to the September parish magazine:

At last: a  date for closing the village hall.
The site has been studied with core samples drilled down to nearly 3 metres where a layer of gravel and sand is found throughout the midlands. The strength of the soil is weaker than hoped so we are waiting for advice from the structural engineer as to how best to support the structure. The worst case scenario would be that we might have to opt for a steel framed building. It is also likely that water storage tanks have to be placed under the car park to slow the flow of water at times of flood risk. We have to follow the experts’ advice on such issues and there is a line in the budget for unforeseen costs.
A timeline has now been produced and the hall will close on 30th November. We will find a way to mark that occasion. Demolition is anticipated in December and a start on construction could be in the New Year with the hope of reopening in early August 2019. This is all subject to a contract being in place and the selected firm being available to start, of course, but it is felt to be a reasonable guess and users of the hall need to have more certainty than we have been able to offer before now.
There is no asbestos in the building (data from 2005) but we have to have another survey as part of the demolition procedure.
Work continues on pulling together the legal framework for handling the funds and also in pulling together the final strands of a complicated financial package. Some small grants are also in our sights so that we can equip the hall to a good standard  within the final budget. The hall and parish council representatives do meet to review progress. Their support is greatly appreciated as there are many strands to this project.
The History Group is going through our extensive archive making a catalogue and photographing fascinating old material. I am very grateful as they will be able to advise on what we might usefully send to the county archives. There is a wealth of material that has been kept since 1937. It will be a great relief to get it sorted appropriately.

The best way to check something is to clean it. In the absence of our caretaker we can see just how things are wearing. Even the wonderful wooden floor is starting to show its age after 45 years. So we do have to get on with the replacement,  we may not make the hoped for start date but it is more important that we get the job right. We are doing all we can to get to the tendering stage as soon as possible




Progress with the village hall ( August info).

 
 Before the new village hall can go to tender with building contractors three tasks have to be completed. The first is finalising the financial package and the second is completing all the technical work specifying exactly how it should be built. Finally, a legal agreement will need to drawn up between the parish council and the hall trustees before any work can start.
 
 
The parish council has received notification that the loan can be drawn down to support the project. Obviously, there will be further work behind the scenes to make this happen but it is a crucial step and we are very grateful to the parish council for pursuing this on our behalf. The other work in hand is to finalise just how much money is available through what is known as section 106 monies paid to the district council by developers to be used for the benefit of the community. To this are added the monies given over the years by the parish council, savings by the village hall committee and finally the money raised so generously by the appeals committee as reported in last month’s magazine. Also, we have not given up on seeking grants that would make it possible to have the hall fully equipped and functional from day one. How much of our wish list is achievable will only be known when the final tender is agreed.
 
 
In the meantime, architectural work has been started. This has triggered ground investigation at the site to make sure that the specification for the foundations is correct. Issues of soil strength and height of water table have to be considered. To satisfy planning conditions we also have to have a tree survey. We already know that there are no bats roosting and that there is no asbestos in the building.
 
 
Construction projects are always complex, we have taken advice and appointed a project manager who will work with all the other professionals to keep things on track and with the quantity surveyor to make sure that costs are controlled. We may not make our hoped for start date of October 1st but it should not be too long after that. In the meantime, the hall continues to be in use and provisional plans are being made for the relocation of our regular users. Having tried to avoid any further expenditure on the current hall, the potholes in the car park became so bad that leaving them for another three or four months was not tenable. Similarly, I am very grateful to David Baxter for literally bailing us out of a plumbing crisis during a busy weekend. It has also been very heartening, on the back of the progress made, that individuals within the village are coming forward with very useful ideas and are volunteering to run with them on our behalf.
 
 
Given everything that is happening, we felt it was time to complete the red line on the thermometer outside the hall, very apt, given the weather!
 



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