Progress with the village hall: points of no return and new ventures.
The Sale of Work committee at Repton School have made a generous donation following the fundraising event in November. This group has been a consistent donor for quite a few years and we are very grateful.
At ground level the progress with the hall is obvious as one walks by. The project is on time and we have had to make sure that all the fine tuning has been done. This boiled down to making sure at this stage that the water supply and drainage is all in the right place. A point of no return was reached quite quickly. The next stage was to make sure that there will be sufficient electrical power and computer points where they will be needed. All the connections for the audiovisual system have also been mapped out. The constructor allowed us to sit with the kitchen supplier who was able to map our ideas on computer as we spoke. This is a very important area and a lot of effort has been put into trying to get it right.
Work is still going on as to the best way to deal with the trees in the car park and to produce a good finish within budget. Progress is being made but this is proving surprisingly complex. We will have to pursue a further grant from somewhere to complete the landscaping scheme in its entirety brazilian hair.
Past users have been consulted and most are keen to return. There is a wedding request for October 2020 and we have had enquiries about a christening, birthday celebrations and other new activities. It is fair to say that pretty much everybody is sensitive about price and we have had already two quite long meetings trying to set out a long-term policy on this. We are working on a projection of likely costs but have to make an assumption about the likely level of use. The more the facilities are used, the easier it will be to control prices. That in turn might work if, for example, we could persuade regular monthly users to rotate around one evening thereby leaving a different evening free for a regular weekly evening user. In the short term, this might not be achievable as some groups book speakers far ahead but it merits consideration.
Not all groups will need to use the main hall. The meeting room and cafe space will be available. It is very likely that we will be able to charge much less for daytime use and on Sundays which are traditionally quite quiet. We are also fairly certain at this stage that there will be a discount for local users and possibly for long-term users. The aim is to reach a conclusion on this during our meeting in May.
This is a difficult area as whilst we want all to be very affordable it also has to be clean and meet current levels of expectation in terms of facilities. When visiting other halls as part of our preparation work, we had a very salutary tale. A new hall in South Derbyshire was built in the mid-1990s and jogged along merrily until 20 years later it was realised there was no money in the kitty and a massive backlog of maintenance and repairs. It was very hard work to sort it out.
It seems that there are good levels of interest in supporting a community cafe venture and for youth activity. The key to success in both these spheres is finding someone willing to lead and enough volunteers. Please contact me to be added to lists of those interested in discussing these projects further, thank you to those who have already done so.
April parish magazine article
By mid-March the foundations were complete and the steelwork started to appear. The heavy crane used on site did not sink into the car park. This means that the substructure is better than had been hoped and may enable economies later on. At the same time, work is still proceeding on how best to deal with the issue of the trees in the car park subject to a preservation order, as are preparations for future use of the hall and on how we make sure that the future hall has a true community focus.
Word is getting round about the intention to start a community cafe and quite a few people have expressed an interest in helping with this. A leader will be needed. The appeals in last month’s magazine for help with television screens has been generously responded to and we have also had a very generous and ‘gift aided’ donation which will be the budget for better chairs. This donation has come from someone outside the village but who has enjoyed use of the old hall for many years, attending the village society and history group meetings. It is difficult to express our thanks adequately for this.
On that subject, there are two remaining major targets in terms of equipment that we hope to fund. The first being lightweight folding tables, which we have seen used elsewhere and can be stored on trolleys, and the second is a collapsible stage system which can also be stored on a trolley system. If we cannot do all these things at the beginning, we do have backup plans.
When the hall in the High Street burned down in 1962, it put an end to the youth club that was thriving there at that time. Youth work in the old Hall in Askew Grove did not last unfortunately. We have been visiting other youth clubs and have been in consultation with the community volunteer service locally. Basically, the support and funding for youth initiatives is there, but the hard part is finding enough of a group of volunteers to run a youth club. If anyone is interested in working on this, perhaps just starting with a simple youth cafe type format, please get in contact. With busy lives, it can be difficult to see how one can do this, but one villager recently told me this about times past (paraphrased): ‘after a bad day at work and not feeling like wanting to go, an evening running the youth club lifted the spirits no end’. We could feel this buzz when we visited Hilton youth club and clearly the young people were getting a lot from it. There is a time slot reserved for this purpose if we can get it off the ground.
The village hall committee is also looking at how the old hall was used and what changes might need to be made to get the best out of the different facilities that the new hall will have. This is not a straightforward as it sounds but it’s important to do so. Availability has to be maximised so we can give priority to local groups and make sure the hall is primarily available for the villagers who are paying for it through past and present funds donated directly or via the parish council. The more efficiently the hall is used, the better we can cover costs, control fees and have a prudent savings plan for the future. The good news is that we are already getting enquiries about bookings for major family events. I will say more on this next month.
MARCH Village Hall update
The old hall disappeared quite quickly and work has begun on piling and foundations. A drain has to be moved at the front of the site and a tank has to be sunk in the car park as part of water retention to reduce stress on the brook. There are photographs on the village hall website.
During the preparation for the project, there has been considerable expenditure on ecology and this includes trees in the car park. Those in the centre are subject to preservation orders, despite the fact that only one of them is in anywhere near a fair condition. In many ways, the car park would work a lot better without them. We could plant better specimens elsewhere on the site and take pressure off Askew Grove but these issues are never straight forward or cheap to resolve.
With the project started, in theory the village hall committee should have had little to do but in fact there is a lot of practical and administrative work to consider before reopening.
Hopefully, the risk of expensive surprises is diminishing as the groundwork proceeds. It will be a while before we know exactly what funds will be available for essential items and the things we want to replace on our long-term wish list. To reduce the cost of the contract, a number of items were identified which we could fit ourselves. For example, we salvaged simple things such as coat hooks and their batons and discovered that we could save a lot by putting up simple shelving ourselves. It does not sound a lot but in fact the monetary value was considerable, so a bit of DIY before we open will be well worth it.
In addition to the practical aspects of moving back, we also have to look at how the new spaces will be used and booked out. We are already getting requests for major bookings. We have already taken advice from environmental health on things to consider in running a community cafe and we have visited other halls where they are running successfully. Similarly, we are taking advice on how youth activities could be restarted in the hall. There has been none since around 2003. As with any organisation these days, a wealth of policies has to be in place to show that we are running the place safely. We will take this opportunity to update everything.
Requests for help: we have had one generous donation of a TV monitor which will go in the meeting room to be used for presentations. If anyone else is trading up in the next six months, we also would like one for the cafe area where it could be used for meetings, youth activity and computer guidance. Another area where you may be able to help is with recovering some very good but tired looking metal framed chairs. We have 10, some with arms, which have been particularly useful for some less able users of the hall in the past. Please get in contact if you can help with any of these issues.( firstname.lastname@example.org
The site was fenced off on 9th January to allow for work on the disconnection of electricity and gas supplies. Unfortunately, some of the work requires digging up part of the road in Askew Grove. The gas supply for the new hall will be taken from Brookside Close so Askew Grove should be spared a second visit by the diggers. At the time of writing, the plan is to hand over the site for the beginning of demolition on 21st of January so by the time of publication there may not be much of the old hall left. For information, the experts found a few traces of asbestos bonded in some floor tiles and in one toilet cistern. None of this should present any risk during demolition.
The construction will be done by A and S Enterprises Ltd. Their website has plenty of examples of their work on projects of a similar scale. From 21st January they have total control and responsibility for the site. We are confident that they will do a good job for us and will do their best to minimise disruption with deliveries.
As commented on before, it has taken a lot of patience and perseverance by many people to get the project to this stage. Without the help of the planning department, hard work by the parish council and the patience shown by Bi Design and Armsons, we would not be rebuilding now.
There have been some outstanding examples of generosity recently. Over £1000 has been raised by an eBay campaign to recycle elements from the hall. This was led by Adrienne McStocker. We even managed to sell the old kitchen as a period item. The Gould family have provided a huge amount of free storage for us. The PCC has given us a generous cheque following a fundraising quiz evening and St Wystan’s School have given us a donation from Halloween activities and a fancy dress disco in the hall. Thank you to everyone.
Also, a thank you and congratulations to John Perks for the success in obtaining the SDDC Community Partnership Shceme grant for £25,000. This arrived as the tender process was being finalised and the budget was getting tight. During the construction, we will continue to bid for funds for specific items. At present, we are not sure we can change our tables, chairs and other items and we have trimmed aspirations on landscaping until we see how much we can afford.
The 100 club which is managed by Adrian Argyle is still functioning and there is room for new members if you feel you can support us that way. Please use the email address below.
When we open the new hall, we will equip it as best we can but have to maintain a reserve for emergencies. We are also planning to start a savings fund so that future items such as car park resurfacing, tree work, redecoration and other maintenance will always be affordable. The trustees and committee will shortly be turning their minds to all the planning and preparation that needs to be done during the closure period so that we can welcome users back in late August or early September. Plans will be outlined in more detail in the months to come.
Finally, we must thank all the committee members past and present who have carried on regardless with this difficult project for many years. There is no way we would have made it without their dedication and perseverance over nearly two decades. The current chair is a mere newcomer to the project. We would also like to acknowledge the three years of hard work by the appeals team who were phenomenally successful.
Kyran Farrell Contact: email@example.com
Firstly, a thank you and congratulations to John Perks for the success in obtaining the SDDC Community Partnership Sheme grant for £25,000. This arrived as tender process was being finalised and the budget was getting seriously tight. More good news came when it was found that there really was no asbestos in the building to be demolished. This released £5000 which could be added to the contingency budget. During the construction, we will continue to bid for funds for specific items. At present, we are not sure we can change our tables and chairs and other items and we have trimmed aspirations on landscaping until we see how much we can afford.
Secondly, we must thank all the committee members past and present who have carried on regardless with this difficult project for many years. There is no way we would have made it without their dedication and perseverance over nearly two decades. The current chair is a mere newcomer to the project. We would also like to acknowledge the three years of hard work by the appeals team who were phenomenally successful. Every penny and pound has made a difference as you can tell by the comments above.
Patience has also been shown by the BiDesign practice who have been providing drawings of various iterations of a hall since 2006! Similarly, Mike Armson did a lot of work pro bono before the formal start of the project which is relatively recent. Our current project team is:
BiDesign - architecture
Armsons - project management and cost consultants
SA Consulting structural engineers
CJR Ltd mechanical and electrical
A & S Enterprises construction
Setting up this project gave the parish council, especially their clerk, a lot of work as it involved a lot of debate about the use of public money, running a referendum and then applying for a public works loan. This in turn had to be covered by a legal agreement with the village hall to ensure the safe and proper use of funds. These steps all took a lot of time and effort. The district council were involved too as they are custodians of various monies for the village. The current site known as Gibson Technologies used to belong to the village and was sold off many years ago. Some money was used for the Broomhills Lane Pavillion and some was kept. £33,000 of our funding has come from that source and another £85,000 from 'section 106' monies which are funds developers contribute to a community as part of the permission to build. There is a rigorous process around all this which made work for SDDC finance department in addition to the many headaches we gave the planners over the years.
In summary, the finance and legal work is done, the contractor has been appointed and is preparing for a start in January. At present our relationship is via a 'letter of intent' which will be formalised with the signing of a contract after Christmas.
The construction of the hall has gone out to tender and the resultsare being analysed. At a meeting in mid-October, we were able to brief the parish council representatives about progress and some of the problems found as the expert input to the project progresses.
The solution to the problem of the poor quality soft ground under the hall is a much more expensive foundation with piling than was anticipated. Fortunately, the original cost estimate that we were given was prudently constructed to allow for unforeseen costs. Much more difficult to foresee was the cost of meeting current expectations from the water authority on handling drainage from the site. In the past, it was accepted that rainwater could find its way into the brook but nowadays mitigation has to be put in place to protect not only the village but also the Trent Valley. In our case this means a storage tank under the car park. Sticking with the theme of drainage, as the new building will be closer to the pavement, there is a drain under the current grassy area which has to be moved rather than built over.
These extras, plus a background change in some building costs, will certainly push us close to the limit on our construction budget. The knock-on effect of this is that it will reduce the funds we hope to use for the initial equipping of the hall. We had hoped to get as much of this sorted at the beginning but we may just have to be more patient. While building the new hall itself and improving the car park have been the priorities, John Perks also been applying for grants to improve the appearance of the whole site with a landscaping scheme. Sadly, although we were close, in the end the grant application for our landscaping scheme did not win, this is very disappointing.
In terms of when we can get started, the project team is still aiming for a December start but it may well be after Christmas. Ahead of this, we need a pre-demolition asbestos survey which will cause damage to the hall. Our safety consultant has explained that there is likely to be little or no asbestos in the hall but there is a chance that small amounts may have been used to fill gaps around windows or under the wooden floor. If so, his opinion is that this would be of the type that is very low risk and is actually quite easy to have removed safely. There is no question of putting anyone at risk. This work has to be done in advance as if it appears as a new problem during demolition it would cause a lot of delay and expense. The other issue that has to be resolved is getting permission to move the above mentioned drain and on this we are completely at the mercy of Seven Trent.
With the construction sorted, we are working on the finer detail so that the building works for the community. For example, no one wants a slippery floor where there might be spillage or a kitchen that does not function. We are looking at ways of increasing the energy efficiency but have been advised that solar panels would not be a good investment for this building, assuming we had the funds.
The plan for the next few weeks is to close after the activities on Friday November 30th and to clear the hall that weekend. I am grateful for the offer of storage I have had and would welcome more. firstname.lastname@example.org
Village hall: plans for a closing party to say thank you to everyone.
Following the success of the music festival in June, we are in discussion with Symphonic Winds about putting on an afternoon concert and with Agent Utah about an evening one. The dates under discussion are November 3rd and 10th, both are Saturdays. These are not fundraisers and we aim to offer tickets for either no charge or a minimal one as a way of saying thank you to the village for supporting the hall’s redevelopment. Final details will be put out in next month’s parish magazine, on the village hall website, social media and spread by word of mouth.
In the meantime the structural engineer has finalised a solution for the foundations. The ground underneath was found to be ‘soft’. Consultants have been appointed to advise on the electrics, acoustic performance of the hall and lighting for the whole site. When the hall closes on 30th November there will be an intrusive asbestos survey before demolition is allowed. We have a project manager from Armson’s who is ably guiding us through it all.
The fine detail of the building inside is being brought to a conclusion with the team from BiDesign. This is not an easy task as every decision affects the next one. The aim is to specify fittings that are both affordable and that will last. Planning the kitchen and storage areas for optimum use by has entailed a lot of detailed work. Every project requires an element of compromise. Storage is an issue in every hall and we visited quite a few to get ideas. We have made use of this information and also taken on board the advice that long term storage does need to be charged for. This will not be popular but it reflects the cost that we have had to go to provide secure space. Similarly, there will be a donation box on the front of the building and casual users of the car park not attending the hall will be encouraged to make an offering. Again, this is because there is a considerable cost in providing a safe surface. People are generous at Ticknall village hall car park, so we live in hope.
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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