Monthly Project Updates
The Trustees have held their first remote meeting since lockdown now that the project has hit the major milestone of achieving planning permission. It was agreed that a new sub-committee – Finance & Fundraising - will be created alongside the existing Design sub-committee to enable work to be shared out and reported back to the Board. We warmly welcome new members to join these sub-committees to support our ongoing work and ensure that this is representative of all sectors of the community. Please get in touch if you would be interested in getting involved.
The Development Management Committee at Dartmoor National Park Authority unanimously voted in favour of granting planning permission for the hall. It’s been a slow process, with our application submitted in November, but it’s been worth it!
The Covid-19 pandemic has put paid to lots of our plans this Spring, with fundraisers cancelled and meetings postponed. The Trustees are taking stock of what has been achieved to date and considering our next steps as we await our planning application decision from DNPA.
Widecombe Parish Council formally minuted their backing of the Widecombe Community hall plans and unanimously voted in support of applying for a loan on our behalf. This loan of £50,000 will be matched by an anonymous, and exceptionally generous, local donor who has offered their support to the project. These funds will enable us to move forward with further significant grant applications and the ongoing work of the Trustees.
The DNPA planning determination is eagerly awaited, as this has now gone beyond their original deadline and we’ll let you know as soon as there is news to report.
The year has started very well with the receipt of funds from two very successful fundraisers. Gail has achieved over £1,200 in sponsorship from her 119 Tors Challenge and we had our best-attended Quiz & Supper Night to date, which brought in a further £600. Together, these have helped us to reach 50% of our Local Fundraising target with £25,000 now raised locally towards this project!
We were disappointed with the outcome of the recent parish vote. 48% were in favour of increasing the precept to the extent requested, but this was not quite enough to ‘tip the balance’. We were however, delighted with the Parish Council supporting our planning application, which is now being considered by DNPA.
We held an Open Day for anyone to drop in to view our Community Hall design and planning application information, to see how we've been getting on & ask us any questions about the project. It was lovely to talk to all those who came along and hear your comments. Our planning application was also formally lodged with DNPA this month and will be considered by the Parish Council at their December meeting.
Yvette attended the Teign Fundraising Forum meeting and has come away with loads of information and ideas about progressing our fundraising work and raising our profile. The Design Sub-committee have been finalising drawings and reports ahead of our Open Day and in preparation for submitting our planning application to DNPA. Everyone in the Parish will have received our Newsletter this month with project updates and information and the Parish Council have now invited all householders in Widecombe Parish to vote on a potential precept increase, to enable them to grant £100,000 to our charity if a majority are in favour. Positive votes will have a significant impact on the future of this project and your support is hugely appreciated.
Our Auction Night was a great success, with local band Wild Goose providing the perfect accompaniment to the huge silent auction and delicious BBQ before our live auction with Peter from Rendells getting everyone bidding on our selected lots. Go Tell Alice had everyone on their feet at the end of the night and we raised a whopping £4,000 for the project. Thanks to everyone who supported this event!
The Design Sub-committee have been working hard at finalising layouts and drawings for our planning application. The hall footprint and internal layout has now been agreed, external finishes proposed and the new access into Hayes Field has been designed, along with parking and boundary treatments. We plan to incorporate two electric-vehicle charging points into our parking area and have set aside space for wildflower planting in addition to a covered terrace and garden area at the rear of the hall.
Fundraising has continued with several small events this month which keep nudging up our percentage of local funds raised – now at 37% of our £50,000 target. Huge thanks to all those who support these in various ways and especially to individuals and groups who have run their own events in support of the new hall.
Further surveys have been completed in support of our upcoming planning permission application and so far nothing has been identified that causes concern. Bat and reptile surveys will continue over the summer and into September and on receipt of these completed reports we will be able to submit our application to Dartmoor National Park Authority.
Various surveys have been commissioned as a result of DNPA’s planning pre-application feedback. We will need to submit an Arboricultural Report (assessment & protection plan of trees in the vicinity), a Measured Earthworks Survey (digital terrain modelling), a Geophysics Survey (magnetic gradiometry mapping of underground magnetised archaeological objects, structures or features), an Environmental Report including bats & reptiles and a Flood Risk Assessment is also being undertaken to support the design of the new access over the stream into Hayes Field. It is fantastic that funds are available to cover the costs of these reports and we can continue raising money for the next phases ahead of time.
Our Barn Dance was a great success at the end of the month with nearly 200 people attending from the smallest of children, right through the ages to some sure-footed Octogenarians all enjoying the wonderful music from the Cotton Mill Ceilidh Band and Data Disco. A delicious hog roast from Michael Howard Butchers kept everyone well fed and we raised over £1,200. Thanks to the Jones family and all our fabulous volunteers for helping to make the night so much fun.
Trustees held their first CIO board meeting this month after a day of training with the NCVO on Trustee roles & responsibilities. We were delighted to welcome Trustees from both the Pre-school and Sports Group to the training and hope that they got as much out of the day as we did. Terms of Reference for sub-committees are now in place, policies are being approved and insurance has been purchased for the new charity.
DNPA have provided us with pre-application feedback on our current designs and we now have a clear steer on the supporting documents and surveys that will be required of us in order for a full planning application to be submitted. A topographic survey and bat survey were both undertaken at the end of the month. The scale, style and layout of our proposals have had no requested changes, which is really positive for the project.
Barn Dance planning is well under way and tickets are now on sale - see the 'Fundraising Events' page for more details.
At the Special General Meeting for members, a resolution was passed with unanimous agreement to wind up the Steering Group and transfer all assets to the newly formed charity, Widecombe Community Hall CIO. This charity will continue the work of the Steering Group to complete the design, build and eventual running of the new hall. Charity Trustees are Yvette, Sarah, Evie, Lloyd, Chris, Alan, Tim and Kris.
Our Bright Ideas grant has been paying dividends already, with our Business Support Advisor helping us to create a Business Plan and submit an application to the Charity Commission for the registration on a new Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), which will be known as ‘Widecombe Community hall’. This charity will continue the work of the Steering Group in fundraising, developing the design and plans and the eventual running of the new hall on completion of the construction.
Yvette gave a report on our work over the last 12 months at the Parish Council AGM – and wow! What a lot has been achieved. A planning pre-application is currently being reviewed by Planners at DNPA and on receipt of their formal feedback, work will recommence on the detailed design of this project so that a final planning application can be submitted. Grants are currently covering the costs of the Architects, legal fees and some of the environmental surveys that will be required.
We are delighted to announce that the WVHSG Committee has been successful in its application to the Bright Ideas Fund for business development support, against strong competition from over 250 applicants.
The Bright Ideas Fund supports new community business ideas through the start-up and planning stages with tailored business support.
We have been allocated a Business Support Advisor from the Plunkett Foundation, and she will be working specifically with our organisation for 10 days to help create a formal business plan and look at our marketing and communications strategy. Both of these elements will be crucial in driving the project forward and ensuring we put ourselves in the best possible position, from which we can invite potential funders to invest.
The second stage of support from Bright Ideas is the opportunity to apply for a cash grant of up to £15,000 and our Advisor will work with us to make this application. This grant could be used to cover further business development costs, legal and registration fees for setting up as a Charity, training etc.
We would like to offer our thanks to Bright Ideas and the Plunkett Foundation for selecting our organisation and the village hall project for this valuable support.
OCTOBER 2018 – PLANNING & PROMOTION
Did you hear Yvette, Chris and Lloyd on Michael Chequer’s Radio Devon show on Tuesday 9th October? We were invited to come and chat about life in the village of Widecombe and our plans for a new village hall. Listen again on iPlayer if you missed it!
We are in the process of applying for Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) status with the support of local Solicitors Tozers. At our committee meeting this month, it was agreed that the new charity should be called Widecombe Community Hall to demonstrate clearly that this is a building for all.
Planning design continues and committee members have been busy updating specification lists, learning about building styles such as Passivhaus (low energy buildings) and working with Structural Designer Alistair Denholm and Architect Ross Hunt to ensure that we achieve an affordable, practical and befitting building for our community. An Environmental Appraisal and Flood Risk Assessment will also shortly be undertaken to support the DNPA’s requirements for a planning application to be submitted.
SEPTEMBER 2018 – WALK FOR WIDECOMBE
Despite the Dartmoor fog, the Walk for Widecombe and Family Fun Day went ahead on 16th September and much fun was had by all. Enormous thanks go out to the dozens of volunteers who supported us by baking cakes, hanging bunting, putting up (& taking down) fence posts and straw bale seating, donating prizes, running stalls, serving teas, organising children’s races and maypole dancing, putting on pony rides, driving trailer loads of children around the field and of course to all those who took part in the sponsored walk and came to support the event. Final figure still not confirmed (waiting for Gift Aid confirmation) but we anticipate having raised over £6,000! A true community effort.
AUGUST 2018 - EVENT PLANNING
We are working closely with Love Devon to plan the 'Walk for Widecombe' on Sunday 16th September and events in the Fair Field during the afternoon - free entry.
There will be music from local singers, a family dog show, pony rides, village fete activities for children, bar from the Rugglestone Inn, local food, children's races and more from midday until 5pm.
The sponsored walk from near the Warren House Inn and horse-ride from Jimmy Frost's stable are now open for registration - forms available here!
Put the date in your diary and come and join us for a family day out to help kick-start our fundraising programme.
AGM 2018 – THE VOTES HAVE BEEN COUNTED!
Residents and members have cast their votes at the AGM and we are delighted to report that with an overwhelming majority, the Feasibility Study recommendations have been supported.
135 votes were received from across the Parish, representing approximately 25% of the electorate. 123 votes were in favour. 4 votes were against. 8 voters abstained.
The Steering Group will now continue its work in moving this project forward. Thanks you to all those involved in the work to date and those who have voted to make this happen.
We are always looking for new volunteers to get involved or join the Committee – for more information, please get in touch. Contact us here
July 2018 – AGM & PARISH VOTE
The Feasibility Study has now been published and was formally presented to the Widecombe Parish Council at their meeting in early July. Residents of the Widecombe Parish and paid up members of the WVHSG are now invited to cast their votes – do you support the recommendations of the Study? A brief overview the recommendations of the report are as follows:
A new modern, accessible hall is demanded and would be advantageous in Widecombe.
The Hayes Field is the appropriate location for this new building.
A multi-contract or design-and-build approach will be needed in order to deliver a cost-effective hall. It will also be necessary to make use of volunteers and skilled labour locally.
Integrated Heritage Centre facilities have the potential to benefit the village but the ongoing educational and interactive requirements that unlock Heritage Lottery funding along with the future running of such a facility do not appear to be supported locally. This aspect of the original architect’s design cannot currently be supported.
New sports changing facilities should be integrated into the design to support new fitness and sports groups in the hall, but also to link with the existing Sports Group by replacing their dated facilities.
The hall will need to be built within a budget of around £600-£700k, in-line with the anticipated sums that can be raised from grants, loans and local fundraising. A key piece of the funding jigsaw is a request from the Parish Council to apply for a Public Works Loan, available at cheap rates and much like a mortgage, is paid off over a long period. In order for this loan to be serviced, households within the Widecombe Parish would almost certainly have their council tax precept raised (by way of example, a Band D property might be looking at paying an extra £18 each year). External funders will look to the local community to see what financial support is in place here before committing their own funds to the project.
Further design is required to determine the final form and finish of the building and value engineering will occur to ensure that what gets built is both befitting of the village, but represents good value for money.
The WVHSG recommends that a building of approximately 400m² would be feasible and should be built.
Since the feasibility study was published, the committee have been revising the proposed layout and the hall features.
When we completed the feasibility study, we had surveyed the parish and collected all the comments regarding potential uses, and this led to a brief for a large hall with lots of potential different purposes. We put this to our architects, and they produced a set of drawings taking into account what we requested. It became apparent at that time, as we investigated funding and build costs that we would find it hard to fund the full project, but it also was clear we could trim the size of the building or simplify the building and retain much of the core functionality. We issued the architect’s drawings with the feasibility report, but made it clear the project was a work in progress.
At our ‘Walk for Widecombe’ open day in September 2018 we showed a set of drawings put together by our structural engineer. He had a brief to provide us a comparative design which maximised value-for-money using a more ‘off the shelf’ steel frame building to understand the cost and look of a simpler build that still had a large footprint.
We listened to various feedback and reflected on our original aims and objectives and recognised this approach would still not be appropriate because we had always felt we needed to prioritise low running costs, long design life, and be sensitive to the adjacent setting of Widecombe.
This therefore led us to ask the architects to work from a simplified requirements list. This trimmed down some ancillary space, removed the heritage aspect, as well as making the changing rooms an optional extra if funds can be sourced. We revisited halls to keep a focus on the key things we needed to deliver.
From November 2018 until February 2019 we exchanged drawings and comments in our group and with the architect until we arrived on a design we believed could be afforded and wanted to get formal planning feedback on. We received a formal response, and used this to guide our work for the planning permission during 2019. We have now completed this work and made the planning submission.
What we now have developed is of a size, external form and position which is realistic, and meets the objectives set. We have carried out work which goes beyond the planning permission work, such as detailed energy modelling, seeking quotes for utilities and other similar tasks. Our current design focus is in detailing our costings, and this is where we are interested in hearing from the community about where there may be opportunities for the hall to benefit from the skills and favours which might be available to keep costs down. We have always priced the building on the basis of the value of the required works, but part of the aim is to bring these cash costs down where possible, and a key part is to use the skills and enthusiasm within the parish to get things done in a cost-effective way. The committee are all volunteers doing this work because we think it is good for the community. Of course getting the funding and permission is necessarily a desk based exercise, but soon the effort will switch to more practical aspects and we know there are others out there who are keen to help.
Take a look at our designs and keep on providing feedback to the Community Hall team! We have a formal planning application in, and hope local stakeholders will have taken the time to look at the proposal prior to then – we have tried to listen to feedback as we have gone along. We are always ready to discuss aspects of the building or the build process and hope to see as many of the community who can help as possible, if you also believe it is a good thing to do.
Throughout this building process, we have conducted many surveys.
We are currently at the feasibility stage, which means surveys from the local community are key to firstly making sure the project is feasible and secondly, making sure it will work for the community as a whole.
Please feel free to have a look and if you have any comments or questions, please use the form on the contacts page.