Village Hall Refurbishment FAQs

If you have any other questions, let us know and we’ll try to answer them.

Why not pull it down and start again?

To build a new hall of similar size and with similar facilities as the existing hall would cost of order £1.25m. In any case, the existing hall is structurally sound and, subject to refurbishment, meets the needs of the village. Knocking it down is unaffordable and bad value for money.

Why don’t we just give the hall a lick of paint?

The hall is nearly 40 years old, so it’s not surprising that it needs something more fundamental than redecoration. We could though make it more attractive and efficient without spending £500,000. What is driving the additional cost are the enhancements people have said they would like a refurbished hall to provide:

- A bigger Post Office
- A bigger kitchen
- A more flexible waiting room/meeting room area
- A more attractive venue for private parties and celebrations
- A sprung floor attracting more physical and dance activities
- More storage
- Better insulation

If we can’t raise the money to make these enhancements, we won’t.

Why are you getting rid of the surgery office?

We are trying to make space more flexible and suitable for a wider range of uses. The surgery office takes away space from the current waiting room. By removing it, we can make the space of more general value for meetings and in support of events in the Main Hall. The surgery receptionist will set up within the room. We have discussed the proposal with Woodlands Health Centre and they are fully supportive.

Why are you using valuable space in the hall for storage? Why not simply replace the containers with a more attractive but cheap store?

Experience suggests that unless storage is easily accessible people won’t use it. While the containers are empty the main hall is cluttered with tables and chairs. The project will return the main storage to where it was when the hall was built. It is the right place for it.

Why move the Post Office?

By moving the Post Office we can have the main store adjacent to the Main Hall, making it much more likely that people will put things away after they’ve used the hall and therefore reducing clutter. In its new space, the Post Office will also be bigger than now.

Why don’t you extend the Vale Room?

We do have planning approval to do so, but the Quantity Surveyor thinks that the cost of the project with a bigger Vale Room would be over £650,000, which we didn’t think we can afford.

Do we really need a sprung floor?

There are different views on this and a final decision, as for some other aspects of the design, will be dependent on cost and affordability. It will be an all-purpose floor suitable for all the activities which go on in the hall and there is no doubt that a sprung floor is better for physical activities and for dance and will better protect against injuries. Dance clubs, which are becoming more popular, have gone elsewhere because we don’t have a sprung floor. A sprung floor should therefore attract more use for the hall. The tendered design includes a semi-spring floor and this is included in the £500,000 cost.

Do we really need to open the hall to the school grounds?

No we don’t, and if we don’t raise enough money we’ll have to review this. But people have said that the hall would be a much more attractive place for private parties and village events if it had access to green space, so we would expect this to generate more bookings. It also connects the hall and school much better making it more attractive and useful to the school.

Why is it costing so much to spruce up the hall?

We are doing more than sprucing it up and are relying on the estimates of a Quantity Surveyor which are based on market rates for what we want to do. There is a risk that the costs will exceed current estimates but before we commit to the work we will seek prices from at least 3 building companies so the final price will be the competitive market rate. We also have to pay architects, the Quantity Surveyor, Structural and Mechanical and Electrical engineers and fees for planning and building regulation consents. In addition, because not all the money is coming from the Parish Council we will have to pay some VAT.

What happens if we can’t raise the money we need?

We won’t do as much. For example, we might decide not to refurbish the surgery and waiting room area or install a sprung floor or do what we would like to do to connect the hall and school better together or insulate everything to the standard we would like. We would still have a much improved hall, but with fewer of the enhancements it would be much more difficult to attract new uses and users as we would like.

What happens if we raise more?

We could consider solar panels or a larger Vale Room or provide a war chest for future maintenance and projects or reduce the scale of debt funding. We would consult the village about what they would like to happen in this event.

Are you tapping all potential sources of funding?

We think so. We are drawing upon reserves, a loan, fundraising events, local businesses and personal donations and making applications to a very wide range of charitable and other grant bodies including the National Lottery, Wren, Biffa and the local council. However, competition for grants is fierce and the process demands strong evidence of need and support. The more we can do for ourselves, the more others are prepared to support us.

How sustainable is the refurbishment going to be?

We are insulating the loft, walls and roofs; installing LED lights throughout and having them movement activated in toilet and storage areas; having a control system on the heating; dual flush wcs and spray taps. An energy survey commissioned from Oxford Brookes University reckoned that if we did these things we could save at least 33% in energy costs. Of course, with increased use and better levels of comfort we won’t save as much as this, but the refurbishment will significantly increase resource efficiency.

Why no solar panels?

The cuts in subsidy make these difficult to afford at present. But it remains an ambition to install them as a future standalone project.

What will this project add to the village precept?

The Parish Council has set the current precept in anticipation of taking out an additional loan for the refurbishment of the village hall, adding an additional £15 per year to a Band D dwelling.  No further increases are therefore expected as a result of the refurbishment.

Why are we doing this at all when the Melland Room is losing money?

The closure of the Methodist chapel since the clubhouse was built has increased the demand for space within the remaining facilities. Nobody has told us that they want us to close any of the hall’s facilities and, as we are largely refurbishing existing space, we are not adding to them either. The enhancements we are making do make the space more attractive and this will generate more use, but we believe that this will come from new users, particularly of the Main Hall, rather than at the expense of the Melland Room. The intention in future is to run the hall and clubhouse under a single management who will be responsible for maximising the combined use of both the clubhouse and hall.

I would like to donate to the project via a company. How do I do this?

Because a donation from a company would not qualify for Gift Aid, it would be better to make it directly to the Parish Council. You can do this by sending a cheque made payable to Blewbury Parish Council to Elaine de Ridder, Blewbury Parish Council Clerk, 83 Dibleys, Blewbury OX11 9PU or by BACS transfer to:

Account name: Blewbury Parish Council
Sort Code: 20 01 09
Account number: 40350494

In either case, please make clear that the donation is for the refurbishment of Blewbury Village Hall.

Why don't you open a crowdsourcing page?

We are considering doing this, as part of the campaign to raise £200,000 for phase 2 of the project.

I would like to support the project by offering my services and skills free of charge. How can I do this?

Please discuss with Steve White what you have in mind. We have appointed Knowles (Oxford) Ltd as a prime contractor who will appoint sub-contractors. We could offer the names of people or firms as potential sub-contractors for specific parts of the project. However, if we required the prime contractor to use particular sub-contractors it could mean blurring the prime contractor's responsibilities and our accepting additional risk and possibly losing warranties, which we would want to avoid. Alternatively, if we had teams of our own who could do a job, we could take an area out of the main contract altogether, if it meant a big reduction in cost, even if we had to accept some additional risk.

If the Receptionist's office is removed, won't it be difficult to protect patient confidentiality?

Woodlands Health Centre and the receptionist have agreed, in principle, to the proposals for the surgery waiting room. We still have to agree the specification for the new, secure cupboard and exactly what facilities the receptionist will need. These could include a removable screen. We are also proposing to improve the sound insulation between the waiting and consulting rooms.

Won't the proposals to improve the links between the hall and school compromise the school's security and safeguarding?

We are discussing with school governors exactly how we can make the proposed improved links with the school work in practice. There will have to be suitable fencing and gates to provide security and define the limits of hall use. There will also need to be agreements defining when hall users can access school land and on what terms. While they support the proposals in principle, the school governors will not agree to any arrangements which compromise safeguarding and school security.