Wed, 25 Nov 2020
Burghfield Parish Council has opened a consultation on the planned refurbishment of the village hall.
Until November 30, residents will be able to submit their responses to the latest plans online via SurveyMonkey.
Following the first UK lockdown in March, the village hall was closed to the public and has not been used since, due mainly to a lack of modern ventilation. As the windows in the main hall are fastened shut, this has prevented the reopening of the hall.
Government guidelines stipulate that all community premises require updated facilities.
The building in Recreation Road, Burghfield Common, is a major source of income for the parish council, with community clubs and organisations normally contributing £30,000 per annum towards its use.
The extended period of disuse has, therefore, led the parish council to consider the building's future and plans have been drawn up for an ambitious redesign.
This would involve the renovation of the existing building to include expanded access and lobby space, a new public toilet, energy-efficient doors, openable windows and a tea station.
Proposals for the rebuild were submitted to West Berkshire Council in July.
The application sets out the case for the alterations, stating: "The village hall was built with the main large hall first followed by various extensions throughout the years.
"The various extensions were designed in an ad hoc manner.
"This resulted in a building with inefficient layout, poor flow between the various rooms and limited flexibility in the use of the building."
"The village hall provides space for a wide-ranging group of users and this application aims to remodel it so it is more inclusive by providing better pushchair access, wheelchair access and toilet facilities for the ambulant disabled people.
"The refurbished hall will also cover the needs of young children and babies by providing new baby change facilities.
"In addition, the scheme will offer access to toilet amenities to the general passer-by public who are not necessarily using any of the other facilities in the building.
"This is a positive and much-needed public commodity that is sadly in decline throughout the country.
"The parish council is striving and taking an active role in order to serve the community by refurbishing the village hall so it is as inclusive as possible."
It is estimated that the refurbishment of the hall will cost £200,000. Of this, £100,000 is to be set aside from the council's rolling capital fund.
The remaining £100,000 is to be raised via a Public Works Loan, to be repaid over a 20-year period.
To finance the loan, Burghfield residents would face an average council tax increase of 25p per month.
However, parish planners stress that interest rates are currently low, and that the lending environment favours this kind of investment.