In the year of the Coronation...
The current community hall was built in 1953. The land was given to the parishioners of Lyng and Sparham by the Sayer Family of Sparham Hall in the early 1950s. And the hall was paid for with funds raised within the parishes.
The building has a concrete frame, brick walls, a corrugated asbestos roof and single glazed windows. Despite the best efforts of the community – including a painting event and the creation of murals on boarded-up windows - it is not an attractive building. A structural survey has confirmed the building is in poor condition, so much so it clearly states the hall is not suitable for refurbishment.
Given the poor condition of the hall, there is a clear need for a replacement. The results of a 2013 survey of all households in Sparham and Lyng parishes reinforce this need. They make it clear there is desire for a modern and inviting community space in which events and activities can be held. The survey raised concerns about the lack of activities for younger people, how few opportunities exist for social interaction between older people and feelings of isolation. These are issues that could be addressed if more suitable and welcoming community facilities were available.
The 2013 community survey asked what facilities any new community building should include. A list of the most popular was compiled – including a stage, badminton court, changing rooms, kitchen and meeting room – and included in the brief given to Charles Emberson, the architect commissioned to produce designs. These designs were part of the planning application submitted to Breckland Council in April 2014.
On 30 April 2014 a public consultation meeting was held in the current hall. Over forty people attended, the designs were presented and a number of issues were raised. In response to the community's concerns and additional comments from the planners and Norfolk County Council Highways department, the designs were altered and revised drawings submitted to Breckland Council. It is hoped the Council will decide to grant planning permission in June or July 2014.
The new building
This will have a timber frame, stained weatherboard walls and a pantile roof. The entrance will lead to a corridor from where there will be access to the hall, meeting room, kitchen, changing rooms and toilets. There will be a car park to the rear of the building, with an open grass area at the front. Vehicles will use the existing site entrance, with a new separate path for pedestrians leading from Richmond Place directly to the entrance. The trees currently on the site will be retained.
As well as being designed to meet the community's needs, the building will be affordable to both build and run. With an air-source heat pump and insulation it will be energy efficient. The use of timber and pantiles will reduce build costs, when compared to brick walling and the zinc roof included in the original designs.
It is hoped the budget to build the new hall will be in the region of £500,000. If all goes to plan the great majority of the funding required will be provided by the Big Lottery (which provides community projects with about £600 million a year, all of which is raised by the National Lottery). A stage 1 application is due to be submitted soon. If this is successful stage 2 and stage 3 applications will be produced as soon after as possible.
The Big Lottery will respond to the Stage 1 application within six weeks. If this response is positive, the project team will have three months to submit the stage 2 bid. A decision on this will be given within four months – if successful, the project team will then have six months to prepare the stage 3 application. News on the stage 3 bid will be received within six months. It could take as long as a year to secure funding, although confirmation of success could be received much quicker.
In order to inform the Big Lottery application, a quantity surveyor has produced a budget plan and a number of building companies have been asked to provide indicative prices to build the new hall. If the funding application is successful, some of the building companies will be asked to provide formal tenders. One will then be chosen by the Trustees to carry out the work.
Given the ever increasing costs of construction, it is possible that the actual cost of the new building will be higher than the indicative quotations provided by building companies. For this reason the project team is investigating other possible additional funding sources. Successful fund raising events over many years have already provided a development fund, some of which has been used to commission the architect and the tree survey submitted with planning application.
June 17 - David Robertson