A Brief Summary of How We Got Here!
- There has been a long-standing desire to make improvements to the Parish Hall as a result of identified shortcomings of storage; toilets; kitchens and general ‘suitability’ of the facilities.
- A few years ago, an original brief was drafted for improvements to the toilets; kitchen; entrance foyer (with an extension to the front) and storage. Plans were drawn up and planning permission was granted.
- This project was broadly initially estimated to cost in the region of £100k (later re-estimated as being nearer to £200k), which presented a clear challenge in terms of fund raising and potential grant income and was clearly ‘long term’.
- However, there were some issues associated with the plans and how they linked to helping the Hall sustain itself financially and in terms of activities into the future and adapt to possible change. The plans didn’t address issues for:
- ‘zoning’ – the ability to have multiple users on site at all times including when the pre-school was operating;
- very poor sound proofing of the building – which limited some letting possibilities when noisy activities were in the Hall affecting the annexe and committee rooms;
- a business plan to back up the plans and justify the expenditure – an essential component of any bid for funding grants;
- consultation with our community – trying to find out what our wider community wanted from its Parish Hall which would help it to reach more people.
- Following a number of meetings, it was determined that:
- we would develop a business plan as there were long-term concerns as to how the Hall would continue to thrive, maximise potential revenue and meet future challenges.
- form a sub-committee to work on the business plan and development planning and address the issues which were emerging. Both are now ‘work in progress’.
- launch a major consultation event inviting the community to come and say what they thought the Hall should offer and what might attract them.
- The consultation was a success with more than 200 attendees and a large number of responses, which formed the basis of what is now the current work programme.
- Some ‘quick wins’ were identified – the refurbishment and repainting / re lighting of the foyer, the purchase and installation of a bicycle shelter, and more recently, a decision to decorate the Hall in a brighter colour scheme and also the toilets.
- Based on the feedback and extensive Committee consultation, a Parish Hall Design Brief was created, capturing all the key issues and architects commissioned to create some design options to illustrate how the requirements of the brief could be met.
- Feedback on these ‘concept ideas’ has been received and logged for the next design stage.
- Advice and information has been sought from the New Forest Planning National Park Authority on what the options might be in terms of new building work and their ‘in principle’ support obtained in writing (without, obviously, any approval, as these are ‘design options’).
- Consultants have been engaged to help us work on our business plan and forward ‘Vision and Purpose’ and provide advice on where best to look for possible capital grants.
CURRENT AND PLANNED FUTURE ACTIVITY – UPDATE
As of May 2021, we have a number of activities under way and work which needs to be completed.
We have described our work as being like a ‘3 legged stool’:
Leg 1 – the creation of some initial feasibility concept designs for us to consider – completed
Leg 2 – consulting with the New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA), planners on the type of plans we might wish to submit for approval. They have confirmed that ‘in principle’ they may look positively at plans which reflect the type of development indicated by the Option 4 feasibility concept plan (subject, obviously, to detailed plans at submission stage) – completed
Leg 3 – working with Social Enterprise Acumen, our consultants, on our vision and purpose, the potential ‘market’ opportunities for additional activities which add value to the offer made from the Parish Hall, based on research of social need and the potential grant funders which might be accessible for our project once we have that information and have agreed our way forward – this is our current work programme under way
So, what are we doing now?
We have several tasks to complete in this stage to create ‘Leg 3’ of our stool and the sub-committee is working on all aspects of these now.
- We need to undertake research into what the needs might be in our Parish community, based on data and local knowledge – the data might be at ‘New Forest’ level and we’ll need to understand what aspects of it might be directly relevant to Copythorne.
- We need to develop a communications plan (of which this Newsletter is a part) to ensure that the Committee and by association, their feedback to the user groups, is both informative and up to date. Creating the Newsletter will help maintain a consistency of the information and help our Committee representatives in any reporting they need to do.
- We are considering undertaking a trial run of some ideas to test out thinking linked to our development plan, such as some form of summer time refreshment facilities (ice cream?) in the Parish Hall grounds when the playground is in heavy use.
- We have some grant opportunities to make bids for to help with our revenue requirements for consultant and other fees in connection with our development activities. We have recently submitted a bid for support from the Comic Relief ‘community support’ fund. In addition, we will, in the next few weeks, be submitting a bid to the National Lottery ‘community fund’ also for support for our development activity costs.
- We will be starting to identify which capital grant funders we may be likely to approach who make awards for the type of project we are planning, but we’ll probably not be bidding to them until next year as we’ll still have a lot to do.
- We’ll shortly begin to refine our Business Plan in the light of the work we are doing as detailed above and ‘filling in the gaps’ about the purpose, function and added value we can deliver using our Parish Hall if we can achieve our development and how it will help sustain the Hall into the future.
- We’ll soon be publishing a timeline showing the likely pathway and timescales to the possible eventual project itself, with a detailed timeline for completion of this stage of our work.
- We may need to undertake another ‘public information / consultation event’ to update our Parish community as a whole on where we have got to in our development plans, but more on this in a later issue.
We hope this Newsletter is helpful.
We expect these updates will be published regularly – possibly on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, to keep everyone up to date.