Monday, 16 May 2022

Villagers to be asked if they want new £3m hall

Villagers to be asked if they want new £3m hall

RESIDENTS of Woodcote are to be asked if they would be in favour of the village hall being rebuilt at a cost of up to £3 million.

The parish council is to launch a public consultation on the future of the hall in Reading Road following months of discussions of the various options.

Some parts of the building are in a poor condition and the council has had to pay for work to ensure the hall is watertight but further repairs are needed.

A structural survey report estimated that £400,000 worth of work, including replacing the whole of the flat roof, would be needed in the next 17 years just to maintain the hall as it is.

The hall was built in 1922 and was extended in the Fifties, Seventies and in 2000.

The council commissioned West Waddy architects, of Abingdon, to draw up the options.

The options are to:

1. Only carry out the work set out as necessary in the survey report to maintain the building as it is. This would not allow for any additional work the parish council has suggested, such as adding more kitchen facilities for use when Woodcote Pre-School is using the hall, improving the toilet facilities and changing rooms or introducing renewable energy technologies to reduce the running costs.

2. Remove the flat roof section of the building and rebuild it, allowing the insulation to be improved and the possible provision of renewable energy and for some redesign to improve the layout.

3. Do option 2 along with internal rearrangement to address functionality issues in other areas of the hall.

4. Demolish the existing building and build a new hall on the same spot which would cost between
£2 and £3 million.

5. Rebuild the hall where the car park and some of the playground are currently. This would allow the existing hall to be used while the work was taking place.

The old hall would be demolished once the new building was ready and a new car park created on the site.

The parish council says a rebuild would allow for a complete rethink on the design, how the hall is used and its facilities.

The new hall would use modern building materials and insulation and have modern standards of plumbing, electrics, heating, renewable energy and ventilation.

The council says it wants to consult residents to ensure money will be spent effectively and to make the right decision for residents of the future, which is particularly important when energy and other costs are rising.

The council owns the hall and is responsible for its maintenance while the Woodcote Village Hall Charity is responsible for letting out rooms.

At a council meeting last month, chairman Malcolm Smith said the relationship between the council and the hall trustees had deteriorated but explained the need for separation as the council would not be VAT exempt like the charity if it managed the hall.

The consultation will be launched later in the spring.

Residents will also be asked about other priorities, including new amenities, such as outdoor gym equipment or a pump track, and traffic-calming measures such as pedestrian crossings, speed humps or speed indicator signs.

Meanwhile, the council has criticised the trustees for meeting to discuss ideas for celebrating the Queen’s platinum jubilee.

The trustees assured the council they had not been looking to arrange the celebrations themselves, only to generate ideas to submit to the council.

The council has yet to decide whether the village will run its own jubilee celebrations.

It says a group of volunteers is needed if they are to happen and has made a public appeal for anyone interested to make contact.

Call parish clerk Jenny Welham on (01491) 681861 or email clerk@woodcoteparishcouncil.org.uk

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