A brief history of the Village Hall

rebuilding project

by Peter Newell,

Chairman of the Village Hall Management Committee

 

Early years

The Village Hall was built in 1965 and has served the Village well over the past forty four years.  However, it has gradually started to show its age.  As a consequence, users have been going elsewhere and the income for cleaning and essential maintenance has diminished.

 

There have been several attempts at rebuilding the Village Hall over the past two decades.  The earliest in my memory is about twenty years ago (when a new hall cost £200,000).  The Village Hall Management Committee very nearly raised the greater part of this amount by private donation and County and District Council Grants.  The project failed, however, because a referendum showed a majority of the Village (while in favour of the new hall) were not prepared to contribute to the balance of the funds needed to pay for it.


More recently

In January 2000, Clive Brimson and his hard working committee produced plans for a brand new Hall very slightly larger than the existing one and fund raising was initiated.  By 2006 costs of the hall had risen to £615,000 excluding VAT, Professional fees and Building Regulation fees.   Although fund raising was vigorously pursued it scarcely kept up with the high rate of inflation of building costs over that period. 


A similar new hall of that size and quality would now cost around £700,000 to £800,000 and seems completely beyond our reach at present.  The Parish Council has been advised by WODC that there is no prospect of them providing a major grant unless we can provide 25% of the total cost from other sources. The Lottery Funding was previously used for this purpose by Village Halls but this is no longer available because of the Olympics, and the Parish Council cannot get a loan of this magnitude (it was advised that £300,000 was about the maximum loan for a Village of our size that could be sanctioned).  The huge costs of a new Hall and the lack of success at fund raising for it over several years are what persuaded the Village Hall Management Committee and the Parish Council to look at alternative ways of providing a new hall that might be affordable.


Simple refurbishment

The original idea of the Village Hall Management Committee was to go for a minimal refurbishment scheme costing about £35,000 - £40,000 that would make the Hall much better for say ten years to give time for fund-raising for its eventual replacement. It was hoped that, for example, Lottery money would become available again after the Olympics.  This scheme involved renewing the felt roof, replacement of the guttering, fascia boards and soffits using UPVC; laying an insulated wooden floor in the main Hall; replacement of all windows and doors with double-glazed UPVC units; and replacement of the electric wall heaters in the main hall, kitchen and toilets. Some funding was obtained for this:  £7,000 from the WODC and £5,000 from the Chill Out Fund.


Schemes enlarge

However, the Parish Council felt that the Village Hall Management Committee should be more ambitious.  As a consequence, Martin Hall of Hall and Ensom (Chartered Surveyors, Witney) was asked to design and cost three schemes (costing £35,000, £125,000 and £300,000) and these were shown and discussed at the Annual Parish Meeting on 20 April 2009 and compared to Clive Brimson’s original scheme costing £700,000 to £800,000.  The Minutes of that meeting are available on the Website - See Item 9. At that meeting, people rejected the two refurbishment schemes costing £35,000 and £125,000.  Strong support was expressed for the Clive Brimson scheme and, failing that, for the partial rebuild “Martin Hall scheme” costing £300,000. 


This £300,000 scheme would allow, in addition to the refurbishment listed above, removal of all wooden walls of the existing hall and replacement with cavity brick, removal of the existing roof structure and replacement by a pitched roof bearing roofing tiles, with a gable over the entrance hallway. The main roof would be higher than the existing one and would span not only the existing main hall but also the kitchen, store room and shower rooms, thereby doing away with all of the existing flat roofs. This structure would also give a much needed new committee room between the kitchen and store room at the back of the hall. All of the existing lighting fittings would be removed and replaced by more modern lighting. Together with the new wooden floor and modern windows, the Management Committee felt that this is proposal would have given a much better looking hall, inside and out – essentially a new looking hall at less than half the cost of the Clive Brimson scheme. It was acknowledged that the cost of £300,000, was still large, but might be manageable in terms of a 25 year loan paid for from the Precept. 


An affordable hall

At this point (May 2009) the Village Hall Working Group was set up by the Parish Council and this group set about further refining the £300,000 scheme in the light of views expressed during and after the Annual Parish Meeting and with the assistance of Martin Hall of Hall and Ensom.  Additionally, alternative schemes were investigated with an Architect (Ray Tollady) for building a smaller completely new hall (lacking the current sports changing facilities and with lower provision than at present for toilet facilities to bring its cost within the £300,000 limit) coupled with a second phase for new sports changing facilities after targeted fund raising to sports funding bodies.  A leaflet was distributed to all members of the Village outlining these ideas and asking for feedback on what later phases of the scheme should also contain. 


Both the “Martin Hall” scheme and the alternative “Ray Tollady” scheme (as well as the feedback from the leaflet returns) were then presented by the Working Group at a specially called open Village meeting in the Village Hall on 14 July 2009.   The attendance at this meeting was high (over 120) and the feeling of the meeting was strong: the £300,000 partial rebuild “Martin Hall” scheme was rejected and the alternative “Ray Tollady” smaller new-build scheme was unanimously accepted.  However, because people also felt strongly that the new hall should be as big as the current hall and should contain at least as good facilities, the Working Group were directed to rework the Ray Tollady scheme to provide these requirements within the £300,000 limit of the possible loan available. 


As the project developed, however, it became clear that the cost would be well beyond this £300,000 figure and it was eventually divided into two phases: (1) the main hall with kitchen, storeroom and toilets costing £500,000 (for which funds have been raised and which was completed in June 2011) and (2) the Community Recreation Facility (CRF) with sports changing rooms and a community recreation room (for which funds have yet to be raised) costing an additional £200,000.