Ridgewood Village Hall management committee is gearing up to submit a planning application to extend the building.
They would like:
- A new kitchen that can serve refreshments to the new and improved recreation ground during the summer months which is accessible without disturbing hall users.
- A meeting room, because even the management committee is forced to meet elsewhere as the hall is so busy.
- A new floor. This was second-hand from the beginning and is in desperate need of replacement.
- New toilets.
- Storage space within the building for hirer use.
- Improved fire doors – the current ones do not meet regulations.
- Improved changing facilities.
- Improved security.
Committee members asked Uckfield town councillors last night for permission, as leaseholders of the building, to go ahead with submitting a planning application. Councillors approved the idea.
Ridgewood Village Hall management committee chair Karen Bedwell said submitting a planning application would enable feedback from residents and councillors and enable them to move forward with ideas.
She said scope for extension was limited. It would be too costly to extend into the car park because the hall was built on a slope, and they couldn’t extend back more than three metres towards the Millennium Green as that would interfere with access to the recreation ground and green, and block out the view of houses along the lane.
The only option was to come out on the east wall.
Karen added: “The hall is dated and tired. It could look more attractive with wooden cladding, bushes, trees and a terraced area, and could provide a community hub for another 50 years and beyond.”
The hall was built in the early 1980s – thanks to funds raised through summer fairs and old time musicals – and officially opened in 1989.
At the time about 2,600 people lived in the Ridgewood Ward. Now there are more than 3,680 and another 1,000 homes are to be built on Ridgewood Farm.
Karen said the hall was widely used for all ages and community groups and run by a registered charity with a strong management committee made up of local people.
She said the hall was going from strength to strength. “We are producing our own newsletter, we have successful Christmas fairs, Easter egg hunts, summer fairs, afternoon bingo, quiz nights, and, for the first time last year, a very successful family-friendly firework display.
“We are also just about to be assessed for our bronze hallmark award, a national award in recognition of the efficient running and community importance of the village hall.”
Karen added: “We need the village hall to be brought into the 21st century to provide all the facilities required for a part of a town that has modernised and grown substantially since the construction of the hall nearly 40 years ago.”
• Plans were last drawn up to extend the hall in 2012. They were modified in 2013 to relocate the Uckfield outdoor bowls club to the recreation ground and combine their needs with extension requirements.
Karen said this would have brought another popular community event to the hall and recreation ground but, after three years of discussion, the plans could not be agreed.