In 1920 a group of villagers got together with the intention of building a Community Hall and less than a year later a plot of land was purchased for £35, and a second hand sectional building was purchased from Cambridge for the price of £154.3s.6d. this was then dismantled and transported back to Willersey. The building was re-erected and an extra parcel of land purchased for £2.10s the hall was duly opened in May of 1921.
In 1968 a new hall was erected at a cost of £9000, and over the next 50 years the timber building saw wonderful service for the local community, with many weddings, birthdays and anniversary’s being celebrated there. The Hall is home to nearly 20 clubs and societies as well has acting as a community hall for the Village Primary School. The Hall has been at the centre of every national celebration from Royal Weddings and Anniversary’s to the Millennium New Eve Party for 340 Villagers.
In 2014 the Hall Management Committee applied for planning permission to extend the hall and in 2016 was nominated by the Parish Council to receive funding from the governments S106 contribution scheme from developers proposing to erect 90 houses in the Village.
With potential funding in place the management committee wisely decided to have a structural survey done prior to carrying out any new work, this was carried out in August 2016. The survey showed up some quite concerning problems with the roof cladding, guttering and exterior timber boarding, the report also highlighted problems with windows, doors and disabled access which did not meet with current safety and fire regulations.
In view of the new findings the hall committee decided to employ the services of a professional architect company to advise on tackling all the problems which had been highlighted in the survey and how best we could modernise the hall and meet the standards required for public buildings.
After many meetings and discussions with hall users the committee decided on an action plan to encompass the structural repair requirements along with a wish list to improve the hall for its many hirers. This included removing the large 160 square foot stage and replace it with a portable type, this would then release up to 200 square feet of usable space for keep fit groups and school gymnastics and dance classes.
In order to accommodate the portable stage, which is moved on trollies, we needed to extend the current table and chair store and a further planning application was submitted to replace the temporary storage sheds with a more much larger storeroom. At this point it was decided to abandon our original extension plans as we had met our criteria of enlarging the hall by removing the stage.
In 2017 we received planning permission for the new storeroom extension and agreed on an extensive refurbishment plan which would include improved insulation on both the roof and external walls, new triple glazed windows and doors where needed, new disabled ramps, handrails, and walkways around the hall, the refurbishment plan also included a new audio visual system and a portable stage.
Initial costings done in 2018 estimated a cost of £240k which, despite a £100k promise from housing developers fell way short of our potential funding. With our grand plans put on hold the Hall Committee looked at a scaled back patch and repair refurbishment to comply with the standards needed for public buildings, even then our funding looked totally inadequate.
In early 2019 talks began with the Parish Council on ways of moving the project forward with the possibility of a long term government loan being taken out by the Parish Council to fund the works. In the summer of 2019 the Council decided to engage the services of a Quantity Surveyor to oversee the tendering process and act as project manager to ensure the actual building work would be done to the required standards and within budget. By November a building tender had been accepted but the Council then needed to get the approval of a Public Meeting to proceed with an application for a Government loan and in January 2020 a meeting voted overwhelmingly to take out the loan.
With the finances in place and a start date booked for April 2020 it was all systems go, but our plans like everything else were put on hold when COVID19 struck. Work did eventually get underway on May 4th and despite several setbacks the work was completed on time and within budget by September 30th. With plans made for a Grand Reopening in November we were once more struck with lockdowns which effectively lasted until June 2021.
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