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Village Hall Development

Thoughts on the Village Hall development by Charles McEwan

Community Councilor

I enjoyed the meeting at the hall for people to comment on the plans. The architect was very pleasant and responded well to suggestions.

I have given some thought to what is proposed and on reflection I think some of the proposals are based on hope rather than reality. For example, a drop-in cafe is proposed for the Hall but as we know Shalla opened a cafe some time ago and the food quality was very good but there simply were not enough customers to make it viable. This will also be a very likely outcome for a cafe at the hall. We are therefore proposing to spend £900,000 on a project that is very likely to fail as a commercial enterprise.

I would think that a smaller scale extension to increase the size of the rooms and improve the kitchen could be done at a fraction of the cost and such an improvement might lead to bookings from groups that currently do not use hall. Such an extension could also be a place to set up a nursery school and that is something that could bring in customers from a wider area.

When I asked my daughter about how to use windfarm money to improve the village, nursery school provision was top of her list. Her friends who still live in the area find nursery provision to be very limited here.

If there was a way of encouraging businesses to relocate here, that would be another positive outcome.

The other thing which would be a good investment is a cheap and effective heating system for the hall and I have been informed that biomas heating is the most effective, whereas ground souce or solar panel heating only gives a minimal heat return and not very effective for a large building.

I have come to the conclusion that spending £900,000 on the hall is not a good idea and that our plans should be modified to be more cost effective and sustainable in the longer term.

Charles McEwan

2 thoughts on “Village Hall Development

  1. RichardMarsh

    Hi Charles,

    I would have to disagree with your conclusions on the renovations of the village hall.

    I think the village is in the extremely privileged position, due to having access to large amounts of wind farm money. A position very few little villages will ever get the opportunity to be in.

    I think the community council/hall committee and the development trust would be failing in their duties as representatives of the community if they did not explore all the possible alternatives/solutions and suggestions for the build and uses of a newly renovated or fully rebuilt village hall.

    This should be looked upon as a massive opportunity to revitalise and reinvigorate the village for decades to come.

    I do not believe the cost, which is up to now purely a guesstimate, should put the community off choosing any potential/possible build.

    We have already been told the funding is there, so all we need to do is apply a little vision, drive, and enthusiasm to make whatever reincarnation of the village hall we get a success.

    I do agree with your point on the cafe. To be a financially viable prospect you would need something for people to be coming to, so that they would use the cafe.

    I suggested along with others that a children’s soft play would the ideal thing to implement. I put this idea to the School Parent Council and I believe they forwarded an email, with their backing, to the Hall Committee.

    This would most definitely be used by all the parents and children of the village, but would absolutely bring people from outside of the village in to use it. You would then have a captive market for a thriving cafe!

    In time, if there was room/scope you could also try and implement a nursery/child care element into it, if this proved to be something that was required.

    Again, all of this is just an idea, but surely with a little bit of thought and vision you can see how it would unquestionably be the right decision to spend the money on a newly redeveloped village hall!

    Yours sincerely

    Richard Marsh

  2. Charles McEwan

    I agree with you entirely Martin, that we have a great opportunity and that we need to improve the hall.

    I was not suggesting doing nothing. Rather I think we should do it in stages. Improving the kitchen and toilets as part of a first stage extension on one side only would cost a lot less and we could probably do that with the money we have now without any need to borrow. Putting in double glazed windows would also be do-able without breaking the bank.

    In the public meeting we had with the architect I saw a lot of suggestions about the heating system and that is something that should be looked at.

    I see from your response that we are on the same page about the cafe option but I do think that £900,000 is completely over the top whereas a staged development would allow us to proceed in an economical manner.

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