HISTORY OF THE PROGRESS FOR THE NEW WELNEY COMMUNITY CENTRE – NOV 2011
At the present time and for many years past, the village has had to support two buildings, both of which are wooden construction and are now nearing the end of their useful lives. The existing Parish Hall was erected in 1929 and the Pavilion on the Playing Field was we understand a second hand building erected on that site during the 1960’s. Neither building meets the current regulations for disabled access and facilities. One building to serve all the village needs would mean one heating bill, one electricity bill, one water bill, one insurance premium and one caretaker/cleaner. Instead of both buildings been let for one or two nights a week, one building could be let most nights during the week.
In January 2005 the Parish Council had a meeting with Elgoods to put together options for the Lamb and Flag and the Parish Hall Site. Four options were formulated – 1. To build a new Public house on the site of the Three Tuns and close the existing Lamb and Flag which would then be sold off, 2. Repair the Lamb and Flag and build an extension to the existing building. 3. To purchase the site of the Parish Hall from the Parish Council (once the Council had purchased it from the Environment Agency) which would mean that the Parish Council would have funds to go towards the building of a new Hall on another site. 4 Pay a lesser sum for thee site of the Parish Hall and then build a new Public House on the riverside site with a Function Room built onto the end which could be used as a Parish Hall. It was eventually agreed that Option 3 was the favourite choice and the Environment Agency were contacted to obtain a valuation of the Hall Site.
In April 2005 negotiations were opened with the Environment Agency regarding the value of the hall site, but unfortunately no decision on price was received from them for almost a year when they finally confirmed the price of £60,000
Following a feasibility study which considered 22 different sites, various negotiations during 2005 and 2006 and meetings with the user groups of the Hall and Pavilion, an Open Meeting was held in June 2006 and the unanimous decision was that the village supported the building of a new community centre on land recommended by the Parish Council either at or adjacent to the Playing Field. Negotiations were opened with regard to land at Sandgate Corner which would give access to the southern corner of the playing field, but in the summer of 2007 it was confirmed that this land was no longer available. In October 2007 fliers were circulated around the village regarding a new community centre on the Playing Field with the following Options:-1. Site of the existing Pavilion or 2. North east corner of the playing field.
In November 2007 it was confirmed that Option 2 was the preferred site. The Parish Council then commenced with a planning applications for the preferred site. In March 2008 following advice and further discussion, the Parish Council considered the possibility of retaining the frontage land (existing car-park and pavilion site) which is in the village development area and would be an asset to the village. A building plot or plots could possibly be sold off should the need arise, to assist with the funding of the project. Councillors visited the playing field and measured up the site in the north east corner and everyone agreed that there would be ample room for access road, car parking, children’s play area etc.
In early 2008 confirmation was received from the Environment Agency that the price for the hall site had now risen to £70,000. In December 2008 letters inviting quotes for architect services were sent to local Architects and in February 2009, Mr.Robin Briscoe of Peter Humphrey Associates of Wisbech was appointed and asked to draw up suitable plans in readiness for the planning application. Plans were provided and amended on two occasions and the final plans were accepted in October 2009. An Open Meeting was held on 12th December 2009 for the residents to inspect the plans.
The first planning application was submitted to the Borough Council on 9th March 2010, but unfortunately this was refused on 4th May, 2010. The Borough Council confirmed that the refusal was due to the location of the new building and adjoining owner’s objections and not the principle of providing a new community hall on the field. They indicated that a modified application with the hall situated generally in the location of the existing pavilion would be likely to receive an approval.
Mr.Briscoe was then instructed to draw up new plans for the hall to be repositioned on the site of the existing pavilion and after some amendments and alterations, the amended application was submitted to the Borough Council on 15th December, 2010. Once again letters of objection were received, the main one being from Sport England who questioned the size of the changing rooms and also the area of the cricket outfield. However these questions were answered with the full support of the Cricket Club. Planning permission for the new Community Centre was finally granted on 19th May, 2011.
The Architect is currently in the process of preparing Stage 1 Tender Documents to be submitted to companies for a quotation for the building of the new Community Centre. This will then give the Parish Council a clearer indication of how much the new building will cost, and will also give amore accurate indication of how much we shall need to raise in grant aid and local fund raising.
August, 2011. The Parish Council have now had meetings with the Architect and proposed builder and a build cost of approximately £288,000 has been confirmed.
On July 18th the Parish Council are delighted to announce that Marshall’s Charity confirmed that they would be prepared to commit the sum of £100,000 towards the cost of the new building and this of course is a wonderful start to the campaign. The Parish Council are very grateful to the Charity Trustees. Grant applications are also being made to several funding sources and full details will be published in due course. It is also hoped to run a series of fund raising events in the village during the Autumn months – The Delta Pilots have already confirmed that they will do a Concert (free of charge) in the Parish Hall with all proceeds being donated to the Community Centre Fund – Watch this space for details and we hope we can rely on the support of the Community to push this project forward towards completion.