Saturday, 28 November 2020

Old village hall facing demolition to make way for new housing

WHITCHURCH village hall could be knocked down to make way for housing.

WHITCHURCH village hall could be knocked down to make way for housing.

The parish council says the building in Manor Road, which was built by Canadian servicemen in 1945, is no longer fit for purpose because it lacks disabled access and toilets and the pavement in front of it is narrow.

In addition, a growing number of people want to hire it for parties and wedding receptions but cannot do so as there are limited catering facilities and outdoor areas.

There is also demand for affordable housing in Whitchurch so the council says selling the land for redevelopment would help to meet this.

The hall would most likely be replaced by a terrace of flats or small houses with one or two bedrooms.

A new hall meeting modern standards could then be built at the village green in Eastfield Lane. The cricket pavilion there is badly dilapidated so the council says it would be more economical to demolish it and install changing rooms at the hall.

The building could be relocated to the south-eastern corner of the green to make more use of sunlight and move it further away from neighbouring homes.

The nearby car park and bicycle racks would also be  renovated.

The scheme would only go ahead if the parish council received planning permission for housing at the Manor Road site.

The developer would be required to pay money towards new infrastructure in the village.

The plans will be put to a village referendum later this year. The council believes it could net about £550,000 from the sale of the land while the new hall would cost about £467,000.

Money left over would be spent on community projects such as resurfacing Eastfield Lane and its junction with High Street.

It could take up to six months to prepare the plans and up to two years to obtain planning permission, sell the old hall and appoint a contractor.

The build could take another six months, meaning it might not open until 2019.

Parish councillor Carrie Hart has written a report on the proposal.

She said: “People’s needs have changed since the hall was first built. We need to respond to these and provide a facility fit for the 21st  century.

“We also need to cater for the growing number of groups with diverse needs who wish to use the village hall. Our aim is to provide an opportunity for residents who are currently unable to purchase their own property within the village and to build houses within their economic reach.

“We have a fantastic opportunity to make best use of combining local sporting and village hall needs into one facility.

“The existing pavilion needs replacement so this would seem a sensible investment.

“It is key to our community to have a village hall that is accessible to all — and that being able to walk, cycle or roller-skate to it will ensure that all residents are able to use it.”

• Residents of Whitchurch can help tidy the village maze tomorrow (Saturday). Volunteers should meet at the site off Hardwick Road at 10am. Equipment will be provided. Another clean-up will take place on Saturday, May 7.

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