Sunday, 19 November 2017

Architect chosen for parish hall makeover

AN architect is to be paid up to £35,000 to progress work on Benson’s parish hall extension and refurbishment project.

The parish council has agreed to engage Richard Cutler to undertake work, such as preparing drawings and specifications, to enable it to put the contract out to tender.

This is the next stage of the project, which is set to cost about £700,000, after South Oxfordshire District Council granted planning permission in the summer.

Councillor Stephen McCann questioned whether Mr Cutler, the director of Cutler Architects in Wallingford, was the right person for the job.

He said he had used the firm in the past and it was like “pulling teeth”.

“I didn’t get the same level of service I would from others,” he added.

Councillor Philip Murray asked if the council was confident that it was “hitching our wagon to the right person”, adding: “Sometimes it’s better to change at a certain point than not.

“If we have got reservations, now is the time to revisit quickly and see if we can get comfortable.”

Councillor Rob Jordan said Mr Cutler had carried out work for the council on two previous occasions.

“I haven’t got reservations,” he said. “Another architect could be 10 times worse. Let’s just stick with him. His reputation will be on the line because he’s local.”

Councillor Teresa McTeague, who chairs the council’s hall committee, said: “We’re spending a lot of money, so we need to make sure he delivers.”

Councillors agreed unanimously to instruct Mr Cutler but Cllr McCann did not vote after declaring an interest.

The project will comprise a ground floor extension at the front of the building in Sunnyside and a roof extension. The first floor will be enlarged by extending across the conference room.

The parish office will be moved to the ground floor from the first floor where it is currently in an “unsatisfactory, remote landing cupboard”.

The entrance hall will be extended and the village post office will move to the hall from the sports pavilion.

The toilets and the kitchen will also be refurbished, a disabled lift installed and two areas of solar panelling fitted to the exterior.

The hall was built in 1986.

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