Jubilee Hall - Progress to Date (by Tom Archer)

I feel we have now completed the first two stages of the project.

At the outset, a questionnaire sought the views of the parishioners on the subject.  This resulted in a very clear mandate to deliver a new hail, with a strong preference for remaining in Station Road and strong support for involving the Scouts, Youth Centre and Club.

The second stage has exhaustively considered the options for siting whilst at the same time we have studied in detail the procedural complexities and pitfalls of this type of project.  We have also uncovered much useful information relating to good (and not so good) design details.

The conclusion of this second stage is that there is no credible alternative to building on the existing site.

If we were to proceed with a fully integrated community centre we would need to provide parking on the Common.

Whilst it is likely that the bureaucratic complexities necessary to make this possible can be surmounted, the subjective nature of the process means that the outcome cannot be guaranteed. This would mean that the project would otherwise be “on hold” for the duration of this process, which could easily exceed a year.

It is clear that it would be difficult to sustain interest in the project for such a period.

I therefore propose that we proceed with the construction of a new hall without facilities for the Scouts, Youth Centre and Club, but as far as possible leave open the possibility of a secondary development for the benefit of those groups, if the issue of parking on the common can be resolved.

In practical terms, this means we build a new hall on the car park of the existing hall, close to the boundary with the common, and adjacent to the public footpath that runs along the riverside edge of the car park.

For planning purposes, the larger part of the parking requirement for the new hail would be located on the site of the existing hall. If a secondary development takes place, most of that parking requirement would be transferred to the common.

So what facilities do we need for the new hall? The following seems a reasonable wish list:

Ground Floor:

  1. Main hall with slightly greater floor area than the existing hall, finished to provide a quality dance floor and function hall with a well designed stage.  Provision of a high ceiling for indoor sports facilities seems a low priority, and can probably be omitted, given the experience of other halls and the availability of suitable facilities at the Grammar School. To comfortably accommodate the stage, and stage lighting, a ceiling height of about 16ft seems
    optimal.

  2. Ground floor storage room with direct access to the main hall, sufficiently spacious to accommodate a full complement of chairs and tables for the main hall.

  3. Kitchen, also with direct access to the main hall, suitably equipped for the preparation of simple snacks and beverages, and as an operational base for mobile caterers. The kitchen should have an external door, so positioned that a caterer’s van may be brought into close proximity.

  4. Bar, probably for use as a servery only, with shuttered hatch facing into the main hall. Possibly adjacent to, and accessed from, the kitchen.

  5. Toilets, probably with separate unisex disabled toilet, and if funds permit, a separate toddler and baby changing unit.

  6. Meeting room, probably located to the rear of the stage so that it can be used as a dressing room. Possibility of folding partition so the room can be divided.

  7. Foyer, with cloakroom to one side, and to the other, hall office, switchgear and janitorial storeroom.

First Floor:

Collecting together the ground floor facilities and placing a roof over them reveals several possible configurations of first floor accommodation.  In general terms, the simpler the outer shell, the lower the construction cost.  If the store room (2) is located at one end of the main hall, and the meeting room (6) is located at the other end, a simple roof can cover these three rooms to leave useful first floor rooms at each end.  If the toilets, kitchen, bar and foyer are located along one side of the building, this simple roof can be extended to cover them, leaving attic space with level access, that would be practical for storing village archives and bygones.  Logical uses for the two first floor rooms might be:

  1. Exhibition room.

  2. Parish council office.
    I will prepare a simple sketch for the next meeting, to show how the building might be configured.

The next stage...

We now need to complete the design brief and obtain a reasonably accurate price for the project.  Our recent visit to Steeple Bumpstead revealed a very well thought out and well managed project, that was marred by an expensive blind alley when their original architect failed to produce designs that were within their budgetary limits.

I am hopeful that we can obtain reasonably accurate estimates of cost before large sums are spent on detailed plans. However, there is one aspect that will need to be investigated at significant expense before these estimates can be prepared.

At the present time we have no idea what lies beneath the Village Hall car park. Given the variance of the local geology, it could be chalk, clay, gravel, silt or the accumulated rubbish of a millennium!

We need to know what we are proposing to build on in order to cost the project. However, as investigations of this type are beyond my personal experience, I would welcome any suggestions as to who we might contact to undertake this work.

THRA 4/3/03
 

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