Extra facilities could be on way to Chichester’s New Park

A boost could be given to £1.48m plans to redevelop the New Park Community Centre with extra facilities on the cards.

Hopes are high the centre in Chichester can take advantage of competitive quotes for the project as a result of the downturn in the construction sector – making the money set aside for the project go further.

It means a new toilet block, new main entrance, vehicle access and parking improvements and pedestrian routes and landscaping could be created when work starts in April.

This is on top of the work to demolish the jazz hall and ‘Hall Next Door’ to create an Olympic-level martial arts Dojo and another hall.

Development coordinator Rod Fennell said: “We know the construction industry seems desperate for contracts of this type of prestige and this significance.

“A quantity surveyor has said there is so little in the way of work out there that we may benefit from extra-competitive tendering, and there are examples of quotes ten, 15 and even 20 per cent below cost estimate.

“Looking at a contract of £1.2m, we can save £300,000 which is nearly enough to deliver these extra facilities.”

The association which runs the centre said if it could deliver the project on time and on budget it would give impetus to go on and complete the remaining phases.

Mr Fennell said it was an exciting time and about more than just the building, but about extending the centre’s reach and working with more organisations to meet the community’s needs.

“It’s not just a question of a new building, but the whole ethos is changing,” he said. “We are changing the way we set up and operate, we will become a more outward-looking organisation. We hope the building will be a catalyst for reinvigorating not just our organisation but what we deliver to the community.”

The vision will also focus on making the building become part of the landscape with better public access.

A footpath will be created near the Walls and the site will no longer be fenced off. Access to via New Park road would be removed, with a pedestrian entrance created instead.

A Friends group is also being set up so people can pledge their support.

The centre will remain open throughout the work and plans are now being devised to ensure all groups affected by the works have somewhere to go.