New Village Hall & Nursery

In 2017 we began the process of designing a new fit for purpose Village Hall.  A working party has been set up consisting of Cllrs McCarthy, Morris, Wilson, Young, the Clerk and RFO.  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.

Overview document
Village Hall – detailed needs
Q&A from extra-ordinary meeting

Update October 2021

The new nursery is open! Chestnut Nursery opened its doors on 4th October and has welcomed its first children for a settling in week. We wish Georgia (the manager) and her team all the best for this fantastic new offering in the village.

Update September 2021

It’s been a busy month to numerous new classes starting up. Welcome to: Clubercise, 2nd Cottenham Guides, Sing & Sign, Fen Edge Orchestra, Singing for Fun, The Village Society, Cottenham WI, Lovefit Barre, Lovefit post-natal and Sunday Socials. There have been lots of party bookings coming in too!

Furthermore our new community bar has opened in the Lounge. This runs every Wednesday from 5pm-7.30pm so do pop in for a drink if you’re passing.

Update May 2021

We are pleased to appoint Chestnut Nurseries as our appointed operator, subject to contract. The Village Hall is now taking bookings and filling up fast with event bookings in 2023! Tours of the facilities are available by contacting the Clerk.

Update April 2021

The nursery operator interviews are taking place at the end of the month and an announcement regarding their appointment should be made in early June. The Parish Council office has now moved into the new Village Hall. We’re working through the snagging with the contractors and architects. We have welcomed Cambridge Kids Club back into the building as anchor tenants and have been busy showing lots of potential new tenants around.

Update early Jan 2021

The nursery is now all but complete. The delayed water connection has finally been done so it’s now just a case of tidying up and doing the small jobs i.e. fitting toilet roll holders!

Nursery entrance

Nursery entrance with fully paved access from car park

Pre-school toilets

Pre-school room toilets


Baby room showing changing area and milk kitchen

Baby room showing changing area and milk kitchen

Toddler room

Toddler room showing access to toilets and outside play area

Pre-school room

Pre-school room showing access to outdoor space

Update Mid-November 2020

Things are moving along apace now with the fitting out. The bikes racks at both locations are now installed. In the Hall the reception desk has now been fitted, as have the 2 bars (which look huge). The balcony has been installed and work is ongoing to complete the toilets, bathrooms and plastering. Work has started on the external cladding. The slabbing around the nursery is now nearly complete and the soft play is expected to be installed next week. The exterior fencing is nearly finished too. Inside, the kitchens and bathrooms are still being installed and the ceilings are going in. Looking good!

Bike racks at Village Hall    External cladding to side of Village Hall

Reception desk 

Upstairs bar

Update October 2020

The scaffolding is finally down on the nursery and the building has revealed itself. The entrance lobby is light and airy with the reception/main office off to the right and double doors through to the nursery areas. The kitchen and toilet areas are now starting to be fitted out and the garden area outside will start to take shape over the next couple of weeks. A hard pathway will lead from the car park all the way to the playground beyond the nursery.  We have also now applied for further borrowing from MHCLG (as mentioned in our January update). A decision is expected mid-November.

      Front office 

Photos showing the front entrance area and reception office.

Baby room and milk kitchen (there is a separate sleep room off to the left – not pictured)

Pre-school room Toddler room bathroom

Toddler room and toilets starting to take shape

Pre-school room Pre-school room

The light and airy pre-school room

Update August 2020

Things have changed a lot over the past couple of months. The nursery roof is now completed, the walls are up internally and receiving their first coat of paint and the windows have started to go in. The roof on the Hall is on and will start to be slated in the next couple of weeks and the internal walls are all in situ. Additionally the race is on to complete works on the access road before the end of the summer holidays. We have managed to co-ordinate multiple utility companies to minimise disruption whilst trenching is installed along the length of the access road. Works will then be undertaken to resurface the road as part of the enhanced safety measures required.

Baby room in new village nursery

Baby room with sleep area on the left

Toddler room

Toddler room showing windows/doors to outdoor space

Pre-school room in new village nursery

Pre-school room with windows/doors to outdoor space

Downstairs room in main hall

Main downstairs room facing towards front entrance.

Upstairs room in new village hall

Upstairs room in the new hall with view out towards balcony

Update June 2020

The steel frame and roof purlings for the Village Hall are now complete! In addition the first floor ‘planking’ and 2 sets of stairs at either end are now in situ. The new nursery is coming along well with the blockwork up to lintel height and the brickwork starting. Next step will be a roof on the Hall which will see a major change.

Village Hall steel frame     Upstairs in the new Hall

View from Hall balcony across to the pavilion     View across the Rec from the balcony across to the Bowls Club

Update March 2020

The majority of the steel frame for the Hall is now complete however sadly the site has now had to shut down due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Village Hall steel frame

Hall framework

Village Hall steel frame

Hall framework

Nursery steel uprights

Nursery steel uprights

Dave the ducking and Dave our site manager!

Dave the ducking and Dave our site manager!

Update February 2020

The car park extension is now finished. There will be some minor works to install a knee rail along the fence line (Easter holidays) and an additional gate and EV charging points will be added later in the build. The Hall demolition is now complete and the Nursery footings have been laid. Below are the revised drawings of both buildings:

Village Hall front elevation

Village Hall front elevation

Village Hall side elevation from car park

Hall side and front elevations from car park

Village Hall side elevation from Rec

Hall side elevation from the Rec

Nursery side/front elevation

Nursery side and front elevations

Nursery rear/side elevation

Nursery rear and side elevations (hedgeline/trees removed for illustrative purposes)

Update January 2020

Work has begun! We handed the site over to our contractors, SEH French, on 2nd January. Safety fencing has been erected, the site compound created, portacabin for Kids Club installed and a ‘soft strip’ of the Hall interior started. Over the next few weeks the car park extension will be created, the corner car park section will be hardened and scaffolding erected around the Hall. As a safety net, Council has considered applying to MHCLG for increased borrowing powers of an additional £500k for 2 years (interest only basis) to complete the Car Park, Village Hall and Nursery projects in the event of delayed receipts of s106 contributions.

Update November 2019

Further to our Extra-ordinary meeting on 19th October:

Project Cost, Management & Finance
 A reassessment of the s106 potential receipts shows around £100K higher than anticipated.

  • Subject to a number of conditions and some additional savings, the project now seems to be within reach.

 The combined Hall & Nursery project can be financed:

  1. Up to nearly £5 million could be available
    • £400K+ from CPC reserves
    • Supplemented by £2.8 million loan from PWLB
    • Supported by up to £600K s106 Community Facilities contributions
    • Supported around £900K s106 Early Years contributions
  2. Direct costs will be around:
    • £4 million plus interest
      • with about 1/3 probably coming from developers.
    • Outcome – assets worth £4 million paid for within 16 years

The Hall alone can be financed:

  • Around £3.8 million could be available
    • £400K+ from CPC reserves
    • Supplemented by £2.8 million loan from PWLB
    • Supported by up to £600K s106 Community Facilities contributions
  • Direct costs will be around:
    • £3 million plus interest
      • with about 20% probably coming from developers.
    • Outcome – assets worth £3 million paid for within around 15 years

Following the “in principle” decision to go ahead with the combined Village Hall & Nursery project, various actions have been taken to reduce outstanding risks prior to a “pre-contract” meeting on 3rd November with site possession by the contractors from 2nd December to September 2020.

A loan of £2.8 million, less the arrangement fee (less than £1,000), has been drawn down at an interest rate slightly below 3%p.a. – fixed over the period.

A review of the re-priced tender has shown several items included (Ladybird boiler upgrade, Changing Place hardware etc. worth some £60K) that we had decided to exclude; there may be others as our focus has mostly been to ensure there are few unintended omissions, especially around the incoming utilities.

A meeting with SEH French has revised some of the project timing to make site logistics easier; this should make it possible to allow both the Kebab van and, possibly, the Connections Bus to visit, albeit in new locations.

Update  October 2019

The Parish Council will shortly be holding an Extra Ordinary Meeting to decide whether or not to proceed to construction and which buildings to include.

A substantial amount of “value engineering” has been going on behind the scenes over the last few months following the competitive tender round; the attached slides will bring you up to date on how we got here, what we might build and how we will pay for them.

Village Hall & Nursery overview

Update July 2019

A key suggestion is to reduce the Hall footprint accompanied by some internal layout changes and minor changes to the external cladding. This will affect our planning permission but we have been advised by SCDC development controllers that this is can be treated as a “variation of condition” rather than full re-application and can be dealt with under delegated powers rather than referral to Planning Committee.

We expect the suggested reductions to be referred to our preferred builder for re-appraisal in early July.

Update June 2019

Following receipt of six sets of tenders for the project, none of which were affordable within our debt envelope of “borrowing up to £2.8 million for up to thirty years, financed by the supplementary precept of £1/week/Band D home etc.” a “value engineering “ exercise is being undertaken involving representatives from our architects, consulting engineers and the preferred builder.

The exercise reviews the various features and functionalities, testing whether each is really necessary and/or can be achieved more cost-effectively in some other way, while retaining the general appearance and functionality of the design as we know it, even if the long-term capacity may have to be restricted in some way.

A long list of suggestions is being evaluated alongside a closer look at contributions from our financial reserves, probable s106 developer contributions, borrowing powers, possible grants and likely net income to see if the gap can be closed sufficiently to bring a modified proposal to Council in the next month or so.

Update May 2019

We have planning permissions, designs and authority to borrow the necessary finance.
We now need to select a builder willing and able to construct the scheme within our budget.
We expect up to six competitive bids by 10th May.
We expect a tender report by CALF on 21st May, with value engineering ideas if required.
If we have a viable approach, a financing plan will be presented to FLAC on 28th May

Update November 2018

We have persuaded SCDC’s Planning Committee that our proposed Nursery can be built on the Recreation Ground near the Primary School and Ladybird Pre-School.

Lynda Harford, former District Councillor and long-timea champion of nursery provision in Cottenham, and Frank Morris made the oral presentations and argued the case with Committee Members. They were supported by written representations by Eileen Wilson and Neil Gough, our current District Councillors, and other letters of support.

Strictly speaking the planning application is a departure from planning policy and, since much of the Recreation ground was declared Local Green Space, “very special circumstances” had to be argued.

Eventually the Committee voted 9:1 in our favour, recognising that the Parish Council is acting to mitigate some of the harms caused by the speculative developments they allowed on Oakington and Rampton Roads. The s.106 developer contributions should pay for the construction of the Nursery eventually.

Update September 2018

Permission for the Village Hall has finally been granted! There has been a request from SCDC for a further extension until 8th October regarding the Nursery and the item will go to the SCDC Planning Committee for consideration in November.

Update May 2018

We have finally received the pre-application reports from SCDC. An agenda item has been tabled for our June Full Council Meeting on whether to proceed to full planning permission.

Update February 2018
Over the next month or two we will be having “pre-application” discussions with SCDC about the proposed new designs for the Village Hall, Nursery and Roadworks, for which we hope to get planning permission later this year.
The new designs should be more acceptable to the Planners but may still have to be amended before we make a formal application for planning permission.

Part of the submission are two draft Business Plans which outline why we want to build these facilities, what they might look like, why the planners should permit them, the services they will provide, and how we will finance them.
Do take a look.

Once we have the planners’ feedback and better-developed Business Plans, CPC will consider applying for planning permission.

Business Plan Village Hall2a 180531
Business Plan Nursery2a 180531

Update December 2017

The working party has met several times with the architects to come up with a new design which takes out the nursery and focuses just on a Village Hall.  The delays have had cost implications (increases in labour, materials, loan) but due to the planning permissions granted there will be developer contributions towards the building of both a Hall and nursery which will off-set the costs.

Village Hall overview
Site Plan as Proposed
Floor Plans as Proposed
Schedule of Areas
CNP Evidence E4 Recreation Ground
CNP Evidence E5 Village Hall
CNP Evidence E6 Nursery

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Village Hall Business Plan

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.

Key documents:
Site plan as proposed
Floor plans

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 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)

Capital Costs

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.

Operating Costs

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.

Design and financials supplement

The design

The ground floor will consist:

Parish office
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.

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