Southwold's new hall edges step closer
BUILDING work for a community centre is to go ahead soon despite a withdrawal of support for the scheme from a town's main employer and benefactor.Southwold's Stella Peskett hall will be demolished at the end of this month, and digging will start for its replacement in May, when the deeds will be officially passed to the Southwold Millennium Foundation, a trust fund set up to manage the new hall.
BUILDING work for a community centre is to go ahead soon despite a withdrawal of support for the scheme from a town's main employer and benefactor.
Southwold's Stella Peskett hall will be demolished at the end of this month, and digging will start for its replacement in May, when the deeds will be officially passed to the Southwold Millennium Foundation, a trust fund set up to manage the new hall.
Chairman of the trust and councillor Michael Ladd announced plans for the rebuilding of the hall at the town council's annual public meeting this week, but noted that the Adnams Charity had "withdrawn its pledge" of £10,000 towards the project.
Mr Ladd said funds were, however, now available to demolish the old hall and build the foundations and a weatherproof shell for the new one by the winter. Total costs are estimated to be around £400,000.
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"The design has evolved and changed to accommodate all options," he said. "We are now very happy with the design. It is very much a community hall. But it has also got to be affordable and within our budget. The Adnams Charity had pledged £10,000 but wanted certain things done which we couldn't do because they were too expensive, so the Charity has withdrawn its pledge."
Project Manager and Treasurer of the Foundation, Mike Medland , said the new hall, which is known as the Millennium Hall but will be renamed in a fundraising competition, would be "a useful and functional facility in the town."
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He said over half the total cost has been raised - £237,000 – and various plans are in the pipeline to raise the remaining sum, but he said the committee was "upset" by Adnams' withdrawal, particularly as many local tradesmen were providing their services virtually free of charge.
"Because we didn't have the full funds we asked the community to help out, and lots of local tradesmen have offered their services at cost price. We are now confident we can go forward using local builders, roofers, electricians and plumbers," he said. "It is a real community project in that we are doing the whole thing ourselves."
He described Adnams Charity's refusal to pay up as a "slap in the face" because the committee had spent several months trying to alter the plans to Adnams' liking, and re-submitted them to Waveney's planners for approval.
"Adnams said they had concerns about the original design and we spent three to four months adapting them to fit their criteria, but they are still not making funds available which is very upsetting."
But Adnams managing director Simon Loftus said the charity felt the conditions for a donation to the project had not been met, and the trustees did not approve of the current plans which fell far short of what Southwold should be building for the future.
"We believe something better than what is planned could be achieved," he said. "If the Foundation can come up with something that really meets the bill and fulfils all the potential of the site we would probably provide considerably more than £10,000."
He said that plans for the new building, which had been designed to meet minimum standards by district council planners, failed to meet the conditions of the charity.
"We have withdrawn any offer of money until we are convinced the plans are as good as they can possibly be for a building that is low on energy and maintenance costs, as flexible as possible and looks good. It would be much better for the town to invest in a more ambitious scheme for the future. We really believe something better could be achieved."