South Luffenham villagers get the chance to comment on plans for new village hall

Village Hall management committee members Richard North, left,and Vic Bacon, with a model of what the new building could look like
Village Hall management committee members Richard North, left,and Vic Bacon, with a model of what the new building could look like
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Plans are well underway for a new village hall for South Luffenham, with an estimated cost of more than £200,000.

The present hall is an ex-First World War army hut, which was moved to the village in 1922, and has been in a state of decline for some years. It tilts, has no real foundations and the structure incorporates both asbestos and moss.

“As a building it falls short in every respect,” said parish councillor Carolyn Welch who has been leading the project for a replacement since autumn 2012.

On Saturday an open day was held to show villagers a model of the hall - made by villager Tom Batty - and to launch a fundraising campaign. The event was a big success and involved an art exhibition, refreshments, a sale of Christmas items, a quiz and a raffle. There were also displays from companies that have helped the project free of charge so far.

Villagers were also able to write down their comments and concerns in a journal which will be considered at a meeting of the management committee later this month.

Carolyn, who moved to the village nine years ago and immediately began campaigning for a new hall, said to gain grants to build it the villagers must match the amount of money themselves.

“We have had assistance from Pro-Help, an agency covering Rutland and Leicestershire, which initially gave us 50 hours of free services, including a full survey by Pick Everard and an energy audit by Nottingham University’s Environmental Technology Centre. We have now done all the groundwork and we sent out a community questionnaire in February - with 93 per cent of respondents voting in favour of going forward with this.”

The proposed new hall will be about a third larger than the present one and will seat 144, compared to 90 at a squeeze now. It will have a meeting room with folding doors to the main hall, a good-sized kitchen, a storage room, toilets, including one for the disabled and an access ramp.

A business plan is in place and a further 70 hours of assistance from Pro-Help for architectural services has been enlisted. There has been a great deal of liaison between the architect - GSS Architectire (Kettering) - and the hall management committee during late summer and a topographical survey was carried out in October by Global Surveys.

The next stage is to put together a planning application. Plans for a car park on the parish field are not universally supported with one or two neighbours objecting.

“This is a small village that was not built for traffic. We can’t have parking on the streets, which for one thing would block the emergency services. If we want the hall to be well used we have to have a car park,” Carolyn said.

Anyone wishing to make a donation for the new hall, is asked to contact management committee chairman Malcolm Hunt on 01780 720687.