Earlier this year we began the process of designing a new fit for purpose Village Hall. A working party has been set up consisting of Cllrs Berenger, Collier, Morris, Richards and the Clerk. A brief was put together and following a formal tender process Wilby & Burnett were appointed as architects.
Informal discussions with some current and potential partners in the project have confirmed suitability of the building and indicated interest in increased use of the building allowing development of a draft provisional business plan.
Update – June 2017
Following many months of time extensions, requested by SCDC, they refused the application on 31st May. We will be meeting with the planners shortly to review how, and on what basis, we might be more successful in the coming months. The delay is frustrating, but, hopefully, much of the around £45,000 expense to date will not need duplicating. The reasons given for refusal are:
- The proposed scale of the building, by virtue of its bulk and height, is considered to result in a visually intrusive and dominant mass of built form when viewed from the recreation ground that would detract from the openness of the countryside. Insufficient information has been provided to demonstrate that the nursery and events space could not be located elsewhere in the village. The proposal would therefore be contrary to Policy DP/7 of the South Cambridgeshire Local Development Framework Development Control Policies DPD 2007 that states outside village frameworks, only development for agriculture, horticulture, forestry, outdoor recreation and other uses which need to be located in the countryside will permitted.
- The proposed scale, form and design of the building, by virtue of its bulk and shallow pitched roof, would result in a poor-quality design that would be out of keeping with the character and appearance of the area. The proposal would therefore be contrary to Policy DP/2 of the South Cambridgeshire Local Development Framework Development Control Policies DPD 2007 that states all new development must be of high quality design and should preserve or enhance the character of the local area and be compatible with its location and appropriate in terms of scale, mass, form, siting, design, proportion, materials, texture and colour in relation to the surrounding area.
- The proposal would increase traffic to the site at peak times. The proposed access is not considered satisfactory as it would not allow sufficient width for two vehicles to pass and would either lead to a vehicle reversing back to the adopted public highway or a vehicle traversing the footway into the site. Any increase in motor vehicle use of the access at peak times will be to the detriment of highway safety. The proposal would therefore be contrary to Policy DP/3 of the South Cambridgeshire Local Development Framework Development Control Policies DPD 2007 that states all development proposals should provide appropriate access from the highway network that does not compromise safety.
- Insufficient information has been submitted to demonstrate that infiltration is suitable as a method of surface water drainage for the development. The proposal is therefore contrary to Policy NE/11 of the South Cambridgeshire Local Development Framework Development Control Policies DPD 2007 that seeks to resist developments that would increase the risk of flooding to the site and surrounding area.
We thought we had provided the relevant information as indicated in our most recent letter:
Planning Application S/3163/16/OL – Village Hall & Nursery, Cottenham
We note your concern about the time this application has been with you but have to point out that much of the delay has been caused by SCDC staff absence and changes of requirements on your side. Throughout those challenges we have remained patient in the hope that a satisfactory outcome can be achieved, especially for Cottenham residents. We do not feel that you and your colleagues have done enough to work with us to make this development acceptable in planning terms.
You note three grounds that are still giving you and your Officers concerns:
- bulk of the building – we have provided information in our Business Plan and Design, Access & Heritage statement etc. to demonstrate the importance for this building and all its facilities to be located on this site; our work on the emerging Neighbourhood Development Plan has found no other suitable site in Cottenham and we have adapted the building design to take account of recommendations of your Urban Design Officer. Other input, from pre-app to now, has been inconsistent and the multi-party meeting suggested by your own Case officer to find a way forward was not allowed.
- Highways – the access road will be subject to a modest increase in traffic which we have mitigated, following initial guidance, by removing a hedge providing a physical barrier between the pedestrian traffic and the carriageway. This prioritises pedestrian movements and retains a carriageway width well in excess of the DfT-mandated 4.1 metres minimum allowing two cars to pass. The County Highways Officer’s escalation of requirement to a 5 metre carriageway is unusually obstructive and appears prejudiced in favour of an undetermined application by another department of the County Council.
- flood risk – the proposed building has an approx. 300m2 footprint , only around 50% larger than the current building so, although it will undoubtedly increase surface water run-off, that 50% increase can readily be mitigated as shown by our infiltration tests to support our proposed SUDS approach.
We suggest that previously-offered meeting should be arranged before any decision is made.
Update – February 2017
The District Council have requested an extension on the decision to our planning application until 10th March which we have granted. This will have a knock-on effect to the overall project but allows us to address some of the comments to date. One change you will see over the next few weeks is the removal of the hedge along the access road to widen the driveway.
We have now formalised a draft business plan (below) and would welcome any further feedback/comments.
Update – January 2017
The Village Hall & Nursery project passed another milestone this month. Following the ballot in favour, Cottenham Parish Council will increase its part of the Council Tax to pay for the project.
Once planning permission is obtained, work will start on the detailed technical design with inputs from key partners.
Competitive tenders for the pavilion pathway and car park expansion have already been invited so this work can be done and the temporary building installed before the main project is started.
Regular updates of current and potential key users are now under way.
Demolition and construction will hopefully begin in Summer 2017 with the new Hall & Nursery opening in Summer 2018.
Update – December 2016
Following minor amends the planning application has been submitted (S/3163/16/FL). The application will go before the Parish Council Planning Committee on 8th December 2016 and will be heard by the District Council Planning Committee in the new year (a 12 week period). When/if approved the architects will begin the detailed technical designs and we will go to formal tender for the construction. It is hoped that demolition could take place over the school summer holidays to lessen disruption for both the Primary School and Ladybirds.
The site plan shows the proposed car park extension towards the Bowls Club. Additionally the intention is to lengthen the current pedestrian path along the fenceline to the front of the new building to improve safety. There is also increased cycle and disabled parking.
The groundfloor plan consists of a main entrance and Parish Office with a single large room with storage and kitchen leading directly off. This has been designed so that once users are in that main room (i.e. Day Centre and after school club) the room can be ‘locked down’ to improve safeguarding. There is also a separate entrance to a proposed new day nursery (with fenced garden area) which could accommodate children from 0-4 years.
Upstairs is substantially larger than today’s 119sqm Main Hall and overlooks the playing fields from windows and balcony. It can be used in 2 main ways, each with bar and kitchen facilities, independently of each other and of events downstairs:
- A core 65m2 “Members’ Club” area with optional expansion to 125m2, 206m2 or 245m2 including balcony access
- A core 39m2 “Cocktail Bar / Coffee Club” area with optional expansion to 120m2, 180m2 or 245m2 including balcony access
Apart from possible weekday daytime use for extensions to childcare, the spaces should meet the needs of local commercial events and parties, including dances, dinners and wedding receptions. In addition the nursery might act as a crèche for business people using the upstairs meeting facilities.
Running concurrently is a village-wide mini-survey about funding of the new building; responses are due by 19th December. Forms are being distributed via the Cottenham Newsletter to every home in the village. Responses can be put in collection boxes at the Community Centre, Coolidge Gardens Community Room, Franklin Gardens Community Room, Ladybirds, Library, Parish Office, Post Office, Sports & Social Club and Stevens Close Community Room. Alternatively you can scan and email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We need to hear your views.
Will it work financially?
The target is to create a desired* community asset for Cottenham which should recover its running costs while creating a valuable asset. (*Vision Plan, NP survey and Planning Applications)
Current estimate is £2,450,000* + VAT including professional fees (*delay will increase costs).
We will be able to apply some Council reserves and donations/grants and/or developer contributions to reduce the loan size but, as we must have all the project capital available before placing construction contracts, borrowing at least £2,000,000 appears unavoidable. Interest costs (PWLB rate fixable today at slightly above 2%) are currently at an all-time low.
Borrowing £2.5 million over 25 years would require repayments of £130,000pa which, if only recovered from an increased precept – is less than £1 per week on a Band D home (67p/wk for Band A, £1.67/wk for Band G).
We may be able to arrange an interest-only £2.5 million loan for around £30,000pa, funded initially from reserves, avoiding an immediate precept increase, although the capital does have to be repaid.
Income from the Hall in years 3 onward should cover at least the £80,000pa costs – operating costs (around £50Kpa – inc. £25Kpa staff costs) and interest charges (around £30Kpa).
Informal discussions with some current and potential partners have confirmed interest in increased use of the building. Strategic partnerships must be in place before construction begins.
Update – October 2016
Following pre-application advice we have reduced the height of the building by approximately 2 metres. We are holding an extra-ordinary meeting of the Parish Council on Thursday 20th October at 7pm when a decision will be made whether to go to full planning permission. Further information, including the revised design, are available in the supplement below.
The ground floor will consist:
Multi-purpose space (approx. same size as existing mail hall) with integrated storage space, kitchen and toilets which can be ‘locked down’ whilst the rest of the building is used for other purposes
A nursery suitable for full time care consisting of 3 multi-purpose rooms, kitchen, milk kitchen, laundry room, reception area + fenced outside space
Small meeting room
The first floor will consist:
Sports & Social Club bar
Multipurpose rooms which can be hired together or separately
Balcony overlooking the playing fields
The external design will mirror that of the new sports pavilion. We will also be extending the size of the existing car park. The building footprint is slightly larger (towards the football pitch) than the existing design; this will necessitate moving the pitches towards the pavilion and tree line.
The architects have been instructed to submit a full planning application and this will be done shortly. Once validated by SCDC the application will take 13 weeks to process. Subject to approval, we will look to go to formal tender for builders in December with a view to starting demolition/building works in April 2017. The project should take 12 months to complete.
Currently the estimated cost is £2.5m for the build (including fees). We already have some money towards the cost and will take out a Public Works Loan for the remainder of 25 years (similar to a mortgage). This will be repaid via the precept and add up to £1 per week to the Band D property, with less lower on bands, more on higher.