Tuesday, 01 December 2020

Hall extension cost cut by half

THE cost of extending the parish hall in Benson has been halved.

THE cost of extending the parish hall in Benson has been halved.

The plans have been scaled back so the development would now cost £250,000, compared with the original estimate of £500,000.

The scheme would involve extending the front of the building and having a new parish office on the ground floor but not changing the upper floor to create a second committee room. The toilet and kitchen used by people hiring the hall would be refurbished and the access to the hall by disabled people improved.

Patricia Baylis, who chairs Benson Parish Council’s halls committee, said: “The council is of the opinion that the plans should be reduced in scope.

“It is felt that there is not enough justification in terms of commercial return to allow for the development of the upper floor.”

She said the new parish office would allow staff to work in an “appropriate environment” and for parishioners to consult them more easily.

She added: “Personally, I don’t have any concerns about the future of the project. I’m certainly confident that it’s viable.”

Richard Cutler, of Cutler Architects in Wallingford, will oversee the project but it’s not clear when a planning application is likely to be submitted.

Plans to extend the hall were first drawn up in 2012. In December, Jo Whittaker, of Oxford Road, raised concerns that the plans could affect the chances of replacing the youth hall and scout hut.

She said: “As a community, we are fantastic in taking care of our older population but there appears to be a lack of services for children of all ages and it would great to see the balance addressed. My concern is that a lot of parishioners’ money would be spent on the parish hall, while the youth hall and scout hut are left in a sub-standard condition.”

The council said that once a business plan had been presented to council and any revisions made there would be public consultation.

This is the second time the plans have been scaled back after a decision a year ago to scrap plans for a mezzanine floor across the back of the hall.

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