Hall's future comes at a price
A ROW is brewing in Haughley over the future of the historic village hall after it was revealed it would cost more than £300,000 to refurbish.The improvements are needed to bring the 96-year-old building in line with modern standards, but concerns are being raised about the cost.
A ROW is brewing in Haughley over the future of the historic village hall after it was revealed it would cost more than £300,000 to refurbish.
The improvements are needed to bring the 96-year-old building in line with modern standards, but concerns are being raised about the cost.
Jeffrey Bowden, chairman of Haughley Parish Council, argues it is not viable to spend such a large amount of money on the dated facility, which has no car parking facilities.
Mr Bowden suggested the Ron Crascall Pavilion, off Green Road, could be extended to replace the facility.
He said: "If we're going to spend that sort of money, it would be more cost effective to spend it on a new building rather than refurbish the old one.
"Or it could be better to expand the current pavilion and then convert the village hall for another use."
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Among the suggestions put forward by Mr Bowden are converting it into a museum or housing.
"We've got a lot of history in Haughley and the village hall would be the ideal building for a museum," he said.
However, the Haughley Village Hall steering committee is hoping to restore the current hall in time to celebrate a looming milestone.
In 2007, it will be 100 years since the building was donated to the village and the steering committee believes the refurbishment would be a suitable way of marking the occasion.
Meg Clarke, chairwoman of the village hall project steering committee, said the public were overwhelmingly in favour of renovating the village hall.
She said: "From the results of a public survey three years ago, there was strong support for renovating the hall. It is used almost every day and it is a valued venue by many people in the village."
"But soon we will not be able to use it unless it is renovated to comply with the disabilities act.
"We want to encourage elderly people to use the hall, perhaps for a luncheon club, but that means we need a catering standard kitchen. It also needs renovation so it can be used by the pre-school and the new after-school club."
Mrs Clarke dismissed the idea of expanding the existing pavilion instead.
"There is not as much public support for expanding the pavilion or having a complete rebuild," she said. "There is also a psychological feeling that the pavilion is far out from the centre of the village.
"We also think that £300,000 is a top of the range estimate – and we are not looking to do all the renovations at once."
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