Monday, 16 July 2018

Scale of parish hall revamp reduced

THE parish hall in Benson might not be redeveloped after all.

THE parish hall in Benson might not be redeveloped after all.

Instead Benson Parish Council is looking at how to better use the existing space at the hall and pavilion in Sunnyside.

Originally, the council had planned to extend and improve the hall at a cost of £500,000.

These plans were then scaled back to include only internal alterations, which would have halved the cost.

Councillor Teresa McTeague, who chairs the council’s halls committee, said the original plans would have meant the hall had more rooms and facilities than necessary.

“We decided to look at a plan that utilises our current footprint better and make the space we have got work harder,” she said. “The fact we are not extending the building and not having a mezzanine floor means it has got to cost less. I’m sure the councillors are keen to actually get something done and that parishioners would like to see something happen.”

New ideas include swapping the men’s and women’s toilets around to provide more cubicles in the ladies’. Partitioning could be installed on the stage so it could be turned into a meeting room when needed.

The plans still include a new parish office on the ground floor with the aim of making it more accessible. The toilet and kitchen used by people hiring the hall would be refurbished and the disabled access improved.

Plans to create a second committee room on the first floor were scrapped to save money in June. New plans and a three-dimensional model for the  hall regeneration project will be drawn up at a cost of up to £4,300.

The council has agreed to instruct architect Richard Cutler to prepare a presentation for a public meeting.

Councillor Patricia Baylis queried this cost, saying: “It seems an awful lot of money for a plan and a model.”

Vice-chairman Jon Fowler said the plans would be good enough to use in a planning application

Meanwhile, the council has agreed to replace the flooring at Benson youth hall at a cost of up to £6,000 plus VAT.

Councillor McTeague said the existing flooring was cracked and coming up in some places.

The hall needed to be in good running order, especially as it was the only youth hall facility in the village, she said. The finance committee will be asked to identify money from the budget.

• Charities and community groups have been awarded grants totalling more than £3,300 by Benson Parish Council.

The Friends of Benson Library will receive £1,400 and the Millstream Day Centre £1,200.

Grants of £150 will go to family support charity Home Start, the and Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance Trust and the Benson and Ewelme branch of the Royal British Legion for the Poppy Appeal.

Sue Ryder and the Oxfordshire Association for the Blind were awarded £100 each.

Councillors also agreed to waive the £91 fee for hiring the parish hall for a charity craft fair run by Bill and Hazel Pattison (see above).

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