Church hall costs escalate by more than £200k
PUBLISHED: 11:41 03 October 2020
Community leaders in Framlingham have approved an extra £56,000 in funding for a planned church hall after costs escalated to more than £1million.
In Thursday’s monthly meeting, Framlingham town councillors approved a recommendation to contribute Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding for the St Michael’s Community Rooms scheme.
The project was originally estimated to cost around £840,000, but the price was revised up to £1.36million earlier this year - an increase of 62%.
Another revision down of the overall cost means it currently stands at around £1.067million.
The building, in the St Michael’s Church grounds in Framlingham, is owned by the Parochial Church Council (PCC).
The PCC has been aiming to redevelop the property for several years and the town council approved £70,000 of CIL money towards the project last November.
East Suffolk Council also agreed to provide the bulk of the cost by allocating £700,000 of CIL cash to the scheme last year.
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But the rising costs of the proposed church hall, coupled with a loss of funding owing to the coronavirus crisis, has meant the PCC has been unable to meet the increased price tag.
The PCC has estimated its income is down by around half this year and the organisation would not be able to access central church funding to pay for the community rooms.
Framlingham Town Council’s decision to increase its funding through the CIL scheme means it has now allocated £126,000 to the project.
But fears have been raised over the legality of the council funding a hall that would be owned by the church, with some residents fearing the move would be in breach of the Local Government Act 1894.
David Beal, a former town councillor who resigned partly due to his concerns of the council’s CIL funding, feared the authority is “operating at the very fringe of what is legal or not”.
He added: “I really do not feel that it’s legal. The church will come back for more money.”
However, the extra funding was approved by seven votes for to one against, with council vice-chairman Simon Garrett saying the risk of a legal challenge was “slight”.
Philip Collins, town council chairman, told the meeting: “One of my drivers is that if we lose this hall, like the other halls we’ve lost, Framlingham has no community space available.”
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