Fund-raisers at Ridgewood Village Hall are asking Uckfield Town Council to help finance the hall’s £300,000 extension.
Numerous events have been held by the group to boost funds but now they need council help to make their dream a reality.
Ridgewood Village Hall is owned by the town council but leased to the hall committee on a long-term, full repairing lease until April 2035.
At a meeting of the full town council on Monday (February 26), members agreed to explore options available for contributing towards the extension.
Chair of Ridgewood Village Hall management committee, Karen Bedwell, told the meeting:
“No provision has been made for a community facility to accompany the planned 1,000 houses being built at Ridgewood Place, which are immediately within our footfall and will increase the use of the village hall.”
She said the present hall would not be able to provide the space, basic facilities or meet health and safety and disabled access requirements.
Mrs Bedwell noted the council had other extensive works planned for community halls within the town but said the Ridgewood improvements should be of paramount importance because the increases in residents would lead to the area having 25 per cent of the town’s total population.
She said the committee had run community fund-raisers and looked extensively into available grants.
“Without support from the town council, this project is not achievable over one generation as the fund-raising is being sourced from the same, limited group repeatedly.
“In this way, the cost of the building will always run ahead of the fund-raising that is achievable,” she said.
Mrs Bedwell said giving the project financial support would mean the council was:
- Investing in the local community;
- Investing in its own building; and
- Contributing to the expanding Ridgewood community.
She suggested one way forward for the council was to obtain a loan for the works from the government agency, the Public Works Loans Board.
“Currently residents of the Ridgewood area are contributing through their council tax for other public works loans throughout Uckfield and in this instance, the Uckfield residents will be supporting the Ridgewood project,” she said.
An investment by the town council in the scheme would allow Ridgewood Village Hall to apply for grants not currently available.
Councillors praised the work of fund-raisers for what they have achieved so far and asked the town clerk to investigate the options available for funding.
A report from the town clerk to councillors contained the following information.
- Outline planning permission has been granted to extend the hall.
- Support has been gained from local businesses and Taylor Wimpey, which is building off the Lewes Road at Ridgewood Place.
- The works would improve access for disabled people, provide a new, modern kitchen and extend the hall which is not long enough for some activities, such as short-mat bowls.
- The hall also needs a new floor and lavatories.
- Taylor Wimpey has offered to pay for the kitchen
- The village hall committee has sourced bricks for the project
- Thorne’s has offered to assist with the foundations and also arranged for the heating to be supplied and paid for.
- However, building the outer shell of the extension will cost in the region of £220,000 + VAT
- The village hall committee’s fund-raising would be expected to pay for interior finishes, fixtures and fittings, toilets, disabled access path, new internal and external doors, solar panels and security systems.