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St Chad’s News September/October 2015 – Q&As

Updated: 31/10/15

Do you have a burning question to ask about the St Chad’s Centre? Hopefully these Q&As will provide you with the answer.

With the building of the St Chad’s Centre fully underway, the Trustees felt it was a good time to provide answers to some questions which have been asked regarding the Centre.

What prompted the building of the St Chad’s Centre originally?

Over ten years ago, Warwick District Council commissioned research to determine what community facilities were needed in Bishop’s Tachbrook.  At the time the parish had the Sports and Social Club and one vacant shop.  There was no play equipment on the Meadow.  The report prompted members of the Parish Council to come together with the Parochial Church Council to establish a joint community facility, which would benefit all residents.  The Old School Hall, which was held by the charity Trustees of Tachbrook National Schools, was felt to be too close to Oakley Wood Road, without the right sizes of rooms for user groups’ needs, would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to bring up to scratch and need major structural changes to be Disability Discrimination Act compliant.  The Tower Room in the church was considered and found to lack the necessary scope to meet all user groups’ needs.  The Sports and Social Club is licenced premises which prevents the holding of Parish Council meetings on its premises and makes it unsuitable for other user groups.  Extensive research and wider consultations were undertaken before an agreed plan was settled for a new building to be centrally located on land previously set aside for this purpose in the churchyard, adjacent to the village green.  Communications at this time were limited as there was no independent Parish noticeboard and the magazine had a limited circulation, being subscription only.

Where exactly is the Centre going to be located?

In the 1970s when Church Lees was built, the area was previously a pig farm.  When the Gilkes family sold the land for development, a small area of land was set aside for future church hall use.  A piece at the front was re-designated for graves and the area at the back remained grave-free.  The Centre is being built next to the church at the back of the village green.

Has the centre got planning permission?

Yes.  If you start building within three years of planning consent being granted, you obtain building regulation approval.  ‘A meaningful start’ has been made on the St Chad’s Centre (in line with regulations) so planning consent cannot now be revoked.    Because the Centre will be built on church ground, it also needs faculty permission from church.  This has also been granted and cannot now be revoked.  A short section of foundations was constructed to crystallise these various permissions.  A 99 year peppercorn lease on the land was granted to the Trust by the church.  The builders are very conscious of the planning regulations and will execute their duties professionally.

Is it being built on consecrated ground?

Yes.  This therefore required faculty consent for doing so.  Although the ground is consecrated is has not been used for burials.  Originally no records were found for this ground being consecrated and the initial application was submitted with the information available at the time.  However a villager remembered a ceremony by a bishop being held and so a new application was submitted under the assumption that it was consecrated during that ceremony.

Will graves be disturbed, for example by diggers driving over graves?

Updated 31/10/15

No grave will be driven over and protective fencing has been put up so no workmen walk over graves.  The Centre is being built on church land and as such the graves will be treated with the utmost respect.  Where the site manager or Trustees are made aware of any activity which is taking place too close to graves, immediate remedial action will be taken.

What impact does the Trust feel the Centre will have on its closest neighbours?

The apex of the Centre’s roof is lower than the roofline of the Church Lees houses.   It will be similar to having a large bungalow being built nearby.  For a comparable size building the Tom Hauley Room in Harbury is a similar size.  The 100 square foot main room will fit 30-50 people at a maximum.  The Centre will have no licence and no bar so it will not be like a pub or a club.  It is likely to be used by community groups in the evenings so there will be equivalent usage traffic.  Its location next to the church will mean Trustees will maintain it in a discreet and acceptable way for where it is located.

Will there be a contractors’ compound on the village green?

Updated 31/10/15

Trustees are pleased to say that, despite the requisite permissions being in place, it is not foreseen that a compound on the green will be necessary.  It is a necessity that building materials must be stored on site on the green but Trustees are keen to minimise the length of time materials spend on the green.

Where is the money coming from to build the Centre?

So far over £100,000 has been given in lots of small gifts from people in community.  This has funded all development costs so far which means not one penny of public money has been spent on the project so far.  The majority of the balance will come from Warwick District Council, with contributions from the Parish Council and applications to charitable trusts and foundations.  The WDC Executive agreed to £300,000 of funding and to underwrite a further £150,000 in order to allow the construction of a community centre in the village of Bishop’s Tachbrook.  This is being funded through the New Homes Bonus Scheme.  WREN has committed £50,000 to the project and Bishop’s Tachbrook Parish Council has already committed £50,000 too.

In 2012, The St Chad’s Centre Trust Company Ltd was established and registered as a charity.  Trustees were nominated by the Parish Council and the PCC, as well as others from potential users of the new facility.  This company’s funds are separate from the Parish Council’s and the PCC’s.

Why has there been a delay between proposing the centre and it being built?

A project of this nature and size requires volunteers to give up their free time to seek all necessary permissions, cost it all and raise money to build it.  The ground has been dug to obtain building regulation approval and it is not uncommon for major projects to take many years to come to fruition.  It is the single biggest investment in community facilities since the church was built.

Why haven’t I been asked what I think? 

The 2010 and 2015 Parish Council elections provided an opportunity for people to vote for the Parish Councillors they felt best represented their views. In both elections the supporters of the Centre received the highest numbers of votes.  In 2010 a group of prospective councillors stood on the single issue of opposition to the Centre and no member of that group was voted onto the Parish Council.  In 2015 a group of independent councillors put themselves forward as an alternative to the existing councillors and no member of that group was voted onto the Parish Council.

What happened to the results of the Centre referendum vote in 2010?

The poll was requested at a parish meeting by a group objecting to the Parish Council grant to the Centre.  In the days leading up to the poll on 15th April 2010, the Parish Council delivered a leaflet to every house in the Parish. The leaflet set out the basis of the PC’s decision to make a grant to the Centre, ensured that all households were aware of the poll and were informed of the issues.  The results of the Poll were as follows:  240 Voted YES, 171 Voted NO.  With approximately 2000 electors registered in the Parish, this represents a 21% turn out.  The result indicates that approximately 12% of electors have voted against the Parish Council decision to make a contribution to the Centre.  The referendum cost £2000 which was 10% of the Parish Council budget at the time.  This equated to more than the total money given to community groups through section 137 funding to support community activities.  The legislation sates that the referendum does not have to be legally binding and the Parish Council communicated in their leaflet that they welcomed people’s views but would not be bound by the response to the poll.

Who are the supporters of the Centre?

The people in the community who would use the centre are its biggest supporters; this extends to parents of user groups.  Donations have been received in lieu of gifts for wedding anniversaries, sponsorship for fun runs and individuals giving 5 figure sums.

What does the church think about the Centre?

The PCC was initially divided over the centre.  There were concerns about upsetting local residents and creating a Centre that the church would be unable to sustain itself.  The creation of a separate charity made it clear that there is a body which looks after the Centre only and is independent of the PC and PCC.

How will you know what the parish needs the Centre to provide?

The Trustees represent the groups of people who will be using the Centre.  There will be opportunities through AGMs and consultations with users when the Centre is up and running.

What sorts of things will be offered at the Centre?

The vision is for it to provide space for a mobile post office, to provide a public space for consultations by, for example, WDC or the police, a place for groups to hold meetings or run activities such as Cubs, host birthday parties, have exercise classes, indoor sports such as table tennis, host family cinema nights, suppers for church events and other opportunities for the community to meet there.

How will it be different from what other venues in Bishop’s Tachbrook offer? Updated 11/10/15

Trustees do not anticipate that the Centre will compete directly with any other venues, as it offers facilities unique to Bishop’s Tachbrook.

Bishop’s Tachbrook Primary School has a hall, which is used heavily by the parents and pupils and the after-school club making it inaccessible during working hours. Child protection requirements and the demanding schedule of school activities do not enable reliable community use. Evening and weekend access is possible but limited.

The Bishop’s Tachbrook Sports and Social Club has function rooms, which are available to members at a reduced hire charge. The Club is a licensed premises making it unsuitable for some user groups e.g. the Parish Council.  The floor space of the Centre will be different from the Sports and Social Club so different things can be held there.  It will not be licenced and it is not intended to provide bar or restaurant facilities.  It will not be run on a commercial basis and there will be no membership, although a preferential hire rate for local people will be in operation.

The Leopard public house has a private room for hire or has larger open areas suitable for holding more informal meetings. However, it is also a licensed premises making it unsuitable for some user groups. The private room is smaller than the foyer area of the Centre. The open areas are more flexible but are unsuitable for certain activities, such as exercise classes.

St Chad’s Church has a Tower Room that can accommodate a meeting of 10 people (max), but has poor heating, limited kitchen facilities and no public toilets.

What facilities will the Centre have?

It will have a kitchen, low moveable stage, storage facilities for community groups, toilets, paved area outdoors and an office.  To find out about what is going on there, information will be on a noticeboard at the centre as well as on the bishopstachbrook.com website and features will appear in the magazine.

How will I be able to use it?

The plan is for an online booking system with details of where to collect the keys from.  The booking cost will cover overheads such as heating and lighting but it will not be a money making venture. It has been designed so smaller meeting space can be used without opening and heating/lighting the whole space.  For example, just reception area and toilets will be open for Parish Council meetings.

Where will the people using the Centre park their cars?

Updated 31/10/15

People will be able to walk from all over the village.  The Neighbourhood plan group is looking into how the centre of the village can be redesigned to encourage people to walk and cycle to it.  The Centre will provide cycle racks and it is hoped there will be improved footpaths linking it to the whole village.

The capacity of St Chad’s Church is 150, with approximately 40-50 attending regularly on a Sunday. The capacity of the Centre will be 50. Therefore we do not expect any more cars parking at the Centre than would ordinarily be parking on a Sunday or for Church events.  The Centre is appreciably smaller than the church. The ” Building Characteristics” section in the Architectural Brief states –

“(it) will accommodate 40-50 people seated for a meeting; 20/25 seated at tables for a meal or formal meeting; 20/25 people rehearsing a play or other performance……… provide catering facilities for hot meals for up to 25 people and hot & cold drinks for up to 50 people. Cloaks and hat/coat hooks for 30 people … Storage for up to 50 stacking chairs and 8×6 person stacking tables.”

When the planners granted Planning Permission they said:

“I do not consider that the likely increase in parking would cause such harm to the living conditions of neighboring residents as to warrant the refusal of this application”.

Trustees believe that the current provision of on-street parking required for a ‘usual’ Sunday will be sufficient for those attending the St Chad’s Centre from outside the village.

Who will be using the Centre? Added 31/10/15

The main purpose of the Centre is to provide a meeting place and venue for those living within the parish of Bishop’s Tachbrook. However, the Centre would not be commercially viable if only events solely hosted and attended by parishioners were held at the Centre.  Publicising the Centre is intended to attract people who would host events/classes of interest to, and attended by, parishioners.  For example baby classes such as Dandy Development, Sing and Sign, Gymboree are attended by people living within walking distance of the Centre but they have to go to Chase Meadow, or Leamington/Warwick to attend the classes.  If one of those class leaders booked the Centre for their classes, parents from the village could walk to the classes.  There would naturally also be attendees from outside the village to make the class commercially viable and they may pop into the Leopard for lunch, or to the shop for milk and bread, thus bringing in custom to businesses in the village.  It might even encourage someone to open a shop in one of the currently vacant units.

Who do I contact to find out more? Through the website bishopstachbrook.com or email stchadscentrebt@gmail.com