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REPORT ON THE PROPOSAL FOR A NEW COMMUNITY HALL IN CULWORTH

 

There has been much talk and controversy recently regarding a proposal to build a new Community Hall on the cricket field. This is by no means a firm plan – it is in the very early exploratory stages and may even yet prove unfeasible. A sub-committee of members of the Village Hall Committee, the Parish Council and the Cricket Club was set up to gather enough information so that we could call a Public Meeting and encourage all people who live in the Village to come and express their ideas. It is now time to put the facts straight and to tell you  what has been happening.

The Village Hall – the land was bequeathed to the Village on 12 October 1938 in perpetuity for the purpose of building a Hall for use by the Village. Although the Hall is in fair condition, the life expectancy of the Hall is unknown and there is a worry that at some point a lot of money may be needed to keep it upright. It has no disabled access and no parking area. The land and building can be sold by the Trustees if they deem it necessary but must be replaced by similar or better, or if the Hall is no longer required the money must go to fund something for the Village.

The Cricket Pavilion – given to the Cricket Club in around 1950’s/60’s and is on the cricket field which is owned by Mrs Shirley Trott and leased to the Parish Council.The Pavilion is now not fit for purpose and is a strong deterrent to any senior cricket fixtures for Culworth

  • In the summer of 2015 Jim Powell wrote to the Village Hall with a proposal for a new Village Hall and Cricket Pavilion to be built on the cricket field. Julie Tinn said she would like to take legal advice from ACRE regarding the ownership of the land and new building.  The Committee wanted time to consider the proposal and after much deliberation and thought on 22nd September 2015, The Village Hall Committee invited Jim Powell and Shirley Trott to come to an informal meeting on 29th October 2015. Shirley Trott said she would consider the request for a piece of the cricket field to build a Hall and that naturally she would have to consult with her family and solicitor first. She expressly asked that we keep the matter private for the time being.
  • On 2nd February 2016 the Parish Council, the Village Hall Committee and the Cricket Club met to see if we could get this proposal to the next stage. At this meeting Julie Tinn expressed concern about a joint venture between the Village Hall and the Cricket Club – the Village Hall is run by a charitable trust and having taken advice from ACRE said it would not be advisable for the new building to be jointly owned. She said the Village Hall Committee would only consider the proposal if the new building were owned wholly by The Village. Stuart Rolt wrote to Shirley Trott for a decision on the land. .
  • Stuart Rolt said at the Parish Assembly in April that he had received notification of a very generous offer from Mrs Shirley Trott to make a piece of the cricket field available for the building of a Community Hall. This was included in the May village newsletter.
  • In July the Chair of the Parish Council received a letter from Mrs Trott stating she now agreed to sell the piece of land for £1 and the Clerk to the Parish Council asked the Committee if they were now prepared to form a sub-committee. At a Village Hall meeting on 19th July the Committee agreed unanimously to form a sub-committee and to see if the proposal was feasible.
  • . A sub committee was formed consisting of members from The Village Hall Committee, The Parish Council and The Cricket Club to facilitate the necessary enquiries.
  • In August Colin Hall and Julie Tinn met with Iain Powis from Savills Estate Agents, to get an idea of the value of the Village Hall and the land it sits on in preparation for the Public Meeting. We were advised that if we obtained planning consent we could set a guide figure of between £150,000 and £175,000. This meeting did not cost us anything.
  • On 14th September the inaugural meeting of the sub-committee was held in the Pavilion to discuss the proposal and the next step. Mrs Trott had included in her letter a plan of action that she wanted us to follow. The site, just to the left of the existing Pavilion, was considered the best option considering the restrictions on much of the cricket field due to the cricket boundary line. This would allow enough parking space between the entrance on Banbury Lane and the hall. An offer had been made of outline plans FOC for the new hall by an architect that would be needed for the Public Meeting. Julie Tinn said that the Village Hall lets the existing premises as well as holding profit making events to pay for the upkeep of the existing Hall and asked how the Cricket Club would contribute. Stuart Rolt suggested that as the Cricket Club would only be using the facility in the summer months that they pay a rental to the Hall Committee.
  • On 6th October William Anstey, Planning Officer for South Northants Council, came to advise us on the proposal and the proposed site for the new Hall. This is a free service and we needed to know if there were going to be any problems with the proposal before any plans were drawn up. Mr Anstey was worried about the access on Banbury Lane and the possible increase in noise and disturbance to the existing houses along one side of Banbury Lane. We therefore looked at other possible sites within the cricket field. We have received Mr Anstey’s pre-application report and having consulted with his colleagues at South Northants Council he has said that he would not be able to support the initial proposal for a building on the cricket field adjacent to the existing pavilion. However, he feels there is some merit in exploring the possibility of constructing a building towards the north east corner or eastern side of the field.
  • While Mr Anstey was in Culworth we asked him to take a look at the existing site of the Village Hall to see, if the proposal for the cricket field became unfeasible, whether a rebuild on the existing site was a possibility. It had come to our knowledge that a piece of land behind the Village Hall could possibly become available at some point in the future.  Mr Anstey said that in principle he could not see any reason why the plot could not be lowered to the level of neighbouring plots giving the possibility of disabled access and one or two disabled parking bays.

To summarize, Mrs Trott has agreed to sell a piece of the cricket field for £1, this very generous offer does not come round every day. The Village Hall Committee would be remiss if it simply disregarded this offer and proposal. We have to think not just about tomorrow but many years ahead so that there will always be a Hall in Culworth to serve the community.

As soon as the sub-committee has enough information, a rough plan and costs,  we will hold a Public Meeting where the whole village can put forward its ideas.

 

Julie Tinn

Chair Culworth Village Hall Committee

 

Read out at the Village Hall AGM on Tuesday 15th November

 

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