The Woodlands Centre is the Village’s main Community facility, providing a range of facilities for hire by local Groups, Clubs, Organisations, individuals and businesses.
The last time that any major refurbishment works were undertaken was over thirty years ago and, for a number of years now, the Parish Council has wanted to upgrade the Centre, as it has always been extremely well used and, as a result, is now in need of an almost total upgrade/refurbishment/ reconfiguration to ensure its continuation as a much sought after venue for a whole host of Events and Activities.
The Council recently decided to ‘take the bull by the horns’ and employed the services of Scott Taylor Architects to work alongside it to draw up designs for the Centre to be brought up to a standard that would be fit for purpose for many years to come.
The initial designs, which were split into three phases, were considered by a Working Party of Council Members, and then scaled down to make them as affordable as possible, at which point it was agreed that only two of the phases should be progressed any further.
Phase One spans the rear section of the Centre, including the Entrance, John de Bohun Room, Roger Barwick Room, Roger Montgomeri Room, Kitchen, Toilets and the Museum Storage Room. It has been estimated that the cost of this complete upgrade/refurbishment/reconfiguration will be in the region of £620,000.00. Overall, it will result in much improved community focused facilities for private hirers and a larger and more user-friendly storage area for the much-valued Museum Collection.
Phase Two covers the Village Memorial Hall, in its entirety and provides for a new Entrance, Toilets, Kitchen, Bar, an increased storage area for tables, chairs and other equipment, plus the upgrading of all of the internal aspects of the Hall, including changes to window sizes, improvements to the stage area, new ceiling, flooring and an upgraded electrical system throughout the Centre. It has been estimated that the cost of this Phase of the Project would, if progressed, cost in the region of £1.1 Million.
At the present time, the Council would like to progress with Phase One of the Project and, whilst it has some capital funding available, it would need to secure a loan from the Public Works Loan Board for at least two-thirds of the total cost.
Before moving any further forward the Council is anxious to gauge the views of the Parishioners of Rustington, regarding bringing the Centre up to 21st Century facility.
To that end, two Public Consultation Events are being held on Saturday 30 September 2023, 10.00am-3.00pm and Tuesday 3 October 2023, 5.00-8.00pm and it is hoped that as many Parishioners as possible will be able to find the time to attend one of the Events to see and make comments on what is being proposed.
It is anticipated that to bring Phase One of the Project to fruition will not result in the need for any considerable increase in the current level of the annual Parish Council Tax, which is currently £124.08 per annum on a Band ‘D’ Property, but if an increase did prove to be necessary, the maximum to be levied would be no more than 5% (approximately £6.54 per annum on a Band "D" property). The aim would be to have this Phase of the Project completed by the end of 2025.
As far as Phase Two of the Project is concerned, if the response to the proposals at the Consultation Events is positive, the Council would actively look to progress applications for funding from Grant Sources, given the substantial costs involved.
It is hoped that, subject to the public response being of a positive nature, a Planning Application covering both Phases would be submitted to the Arun District Council, as soon as practicably possible. Assuming that permission would be granted without issue, a loan application would then be made for Phase One of the Project to be undertaken.
Obviously, at the present time, Phase Two is a ‘pipe-dream’, but the Council will remain optimistic that grant funding will be able to be achieved to meet a major portion of the estimated cost.
Please come along to either one of the Consultation Events to ‘Have Your Say’ on the Council’s proposals. The Flyer for the event can be found here.