Date is set for new hall in Barnham

Plans for a new community hall to be built in Barnham have reached a major milestone.

At a special meeting on Saturday, it was announced building work to construct a new multi-purpose community hall would begin in June next year.

The new hall, a project undertaken by Barnham Parish Council and the Barnham Leisure Amenities Development Enterprise (BLADE), is expected open in April 2013.

BLADE chairman Terry Bedford said: “This is the final public consultation into the new community hall and a major milestone for the project.

“We have been able to get to this point through the hard work of the many volunteers and the close working and transparent relationship between BLADE, Barnham Parish Council and residents.

“The new hall is about investing in Barnham’s future and the future of its residents. The need for a new hall was first felt some 20 years ago.

“We have to build this hall – we have no choice as the current one is subject to a demolition order. It has been at the heart of the community and served it well for 80 years but it is now in a very poor state.

“It has subsidence and asbestos in the roof at the moment. We are simply throwing good money after bad keeping it open.

“The new hall will create a destination for the village for the next three generations and that is fantastic.

“We need this new multi-purpose hall to bring us into the 21st century.

“The challenge now is to find a builder who can deliver the hall to our high standards while keeping to the strict budget.”

The majority of funding for the hall, which is expected to cost up to £1.5m to build, has already been secured.

Various grants and fundraising has raised £550,000, and a public works loan of £400,000 – to be repaid over a 50-year period – has been taken out by the parish council.

The sale of land which houses the current hall to developer Henry Adams for eight new homes also raised funds; however a shortfall remains.

Fundraising manager Chris Allington said: “We have a shortfall of around £156,000 which I need to find in the next four months.

“I am confident we can deliver that.

“We have a good success rate of applying for grants, getting them and completing projects on time which puts us in a strong position.

“But I would urge anybody or any business who can to help. Whether you buy a brick, join BLADE’s 200 club or donate money, everything helps.”

Once up-and-running, the hall, which it is believed will be the most modern in the area, could make a profit of between £20,000 and £30,000 per year.

“The new hall will be run as a charity and it will be up to Barnham Parish Council to decide what is done with that money,” added Mr Allington.