Woodhouse Parish Council

Serving the people of Woodhouse & Woodhouse Eaves


Clerk: Emma Crowe
50a Main Street
Woodhouse Eaves
LE12 8RZ

New community building project

The council decided in 2006 to replace the old wooden scout hut following a survey that said it needed a lot of money (£12,000) just to make it safe and fit in the short term. We don't know where it came from or how it got there. It stands on the King George's Field charity land so it's not possible to have a building for the sole use of any one group or to have a bigger one. This page provides information on the project. Planning permission was granted on 10 September 2012 [P/12/1364/2] and a revised application was granted on 4 December 2014 [P/14/2044/2].

Why do we need to replace the scout hut?
The scout group maintained it after they became the only regular users. After the survey, the council took over most of the maintenance as it was too much for scouts to manage. Annual surveys since 2006 resulted in more repairs each year. Surveyors told the council that it would be unlikely last into and beyond another winter. Without the building, over 100 young people would have had nowhere to meet. They had explored alternatives thoroughly, and could only find temporary meeting places. The hut was in such a state that no other groups wanted to use it.

What kind of building?
A working party comprising reps from council, scouts and some local trades, considered two options. One was for another wooden building, clad in stone to match the requirements of the Village Design Statement [adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance by the Local Planning Authority] and the fact that it would be inside the Main Street Conservation Area, where special conditions apply. The other was for a more solidly constructed building that would last for much longer - this was considered more appropriate for attracting lettings. The cost estimates for a new building were around £90,000 for a wooden one plus the cost of fitting it out, and for a 'bricks and mortar' building to match the surroundings the estimate was around £136,000

Wood versus brick - expert information received
An expert advised the council: "The wooden option would possibly be higher risk particularly relating to arson and also damage and graffiti. Timber would also require re-treatment and maintenance. Building Regulations demand a minimum fire resistance for building types; this is achieved by treatment to the timber, addition of plasterboard or similar. Additionally some external finishes are more fireproof than others. Masonry is generally very good in a fire without additional finishes, often four times more than Building Regulations [require] and therefore many consider better. Most timber buildings in the UK are clad with brick. Brick and timber are generally similar in price; the advantage in timber is generally speed of build. My personal view, ignoring speed of build, would always be masonry for robustness - but timber frame can achieve higher thermal values in a smaller wall thickness. I have attended many fires and most masonry buildings need purely refitting but timber frame buildings often [need] demolishing." [The expert consulted holds a BSc(Hons) Building Surveying degree; an MBEng degree and is an On Construction Energy Assessor & a Domestic Energy Assessor]. See also www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11354139 and www.timberframefires.co.uk/ on fire risks.

The choice
The working party concluded that an extension to the rear of the village hall was the preferred option to house the Woodhouse Eaves Scout Group and any other group that wanted a meeting place. With the enthusiastic help of the scout group, fund raising began in earnest in 2011. The council paid a quantity surveyor to cost up the working party's preferred type of building and an architect drew plans and submitted a planning application (granted in September 2012).

Gaining space and safety
The new building had to be on the same footprint as the old hut because a path to the primary school at one end prevented anything longer. To gain extra activity space and reduce the scout's long waiting list, toilet and kitchen areas were designed into the village hall basement via a new doorway. This also gave the scout group access to a disabled toilet.

How do we pay for this?
Scout fundraising, grant applications, donations from individuals and other local events, and the parish council's reserves. Scouts since June 2011 ran numerous events to raise funds while the council applied for grants. The parish council ring-fenced some of its budget. The council managed to persuade the Borough Council to divert some of the Forest Rock site infrastructure contributions to this project, in preference to its original allocation to the children's play areas. All of these inputs helped to cover about two thirds of the estimated cost.

Will we need to borrow to fully fund this project - why?
Most grants only pay out when the project has been completed. An overdraft is the traditional way that councils fund capital projects. This council used this facility many times in the past e.g. to buy the allotments and playing field, build and repair tennis courts, extend the original 1880s village hall, and for underpinning the rear of the hall when a sewage drain had leaked.

Central Government had to give its permission, which allowed the council to apply for a loan. Loans typically come from a Government unit set up for the job - the Public Works Loan Board. Its money comes from Government gilts and interest rates are very low - under 2% at the time. Repayment was arranged over 3 years with income coming from increased lettings and delays to other projects.

What happens when building starts?
There was some disruption. The park and stride path to the primary school had to be diverted around the tennis courts and hames area. The council paid for a temporary walkway.

What happens next?

The council recruited project managers Hallam Read, who published an invitation to tender on 10 May 2013 with a deadline for builders to submit quotations by early August. Tenders were considered on 2 September but considered to be too high. Therefore, negotiations will start to try to reduce the estimated cost by, for example, reducing the length, size of storage areas and lobby, and moving the building further away from the boundary wall to reduce foundation and piling costs.

Surveyor reports in 2013 limited the life of the hut so the Scout Group was asked to find alternative accommodation as soon as possible, and no later than the end of October because continuing use of the hut would be an unacceptable risk to users' safety. The Scout Group has since been offered a lifeline: if they are prepared to pay for another professional survey, do the work that is requested, and insure the building - sending copies of these documents to the council before the end of October, then the Group might be able to stay in the hut for longer. An agreement to cover this would need ot be signed by both parties.

Update Nov 2013
Following a survey commissioned by the Scout Group, the council agreed they could continue to use it for a little longer, while the council continued to study quotations from builders and seek further funds.

Update March 2014
The contractor was chosen - Keller Construction. They had they hoped to start that summer, once the funds had been raised. The Council had to submit a new planning application because of small changes to the origional plan.

Update October 2014
The building could not start in the summer because fundraising was still short of the total needed. Further grant applications were made.

Update January 2015
Some grant offers would have been withdrawn unless the work started before the end of the financial year, March, and as the builder could fit the job in towards the end of the month, the council decided to press ahead with a start in January.

Progress - February/March 2015
Builders had made good progress and the roof was ready to go on. The first builder's invoice arrived at the end of February and was paid from parish council reserves. The Department for Communities & Local Government [DCLG] had given the go-ahead for a loan application to cover the shortfall in funds raised to date.

The planners' requirement to incorporate a piece of public art was to be met by a commissioned tile inserted in the render at the front of the building - drawn by a local artist and manufactured by a local crafts person.

The next step was to make decisions about the interior - flooring, storage, power points, plumbing etc.

Progress - April 2015

Roof, windows, gutters and doors had been fitted and work started on kitchen, toilets, flooring, electrical circuits and heating system. The school path would re-open week beginning 20 April and the temporary walkway removed, and the bottle bank had already returned to the car park, removed earlier to compensate for 'lost' car park spaces taken over by the builders.

Progress - May 2015

Most of the interior work was underway - kitchen fitting, heating and flooring due to be completed by the end of the month, and furniture was ordered. Outside, the public art was mounted above the bay window, designed by local artist Jane Harris and manufactured by artisan ceramic tile-makers David and Louise Salsbury of www.salsburyceramics.co.uk

June 2015 update

Furniture began to arrive and the building was now ready for use. An official opening ceremony was planned for September.

September 2015

The new building was officially opened on 13 September by Cllr David Snartt, Chair of Leicestershire County Council with his wife Joan; & Cllr John Capleton and Mrs Meg Jenkinson, Mayor & Mayoress of Charnwood. Children from a variety of groups came along to show their activities to the VIPs, visitors, donors, contractors and staff. Parish Council Chair Janie Martin thanked everyone who attended and everyone who had helped to make the project a success.

Inside the building are plaques bearing the names of the contributors including those who designed, planned and constructed the building and those who so kindly contributed funds towards its cost.

December 2015
Lots of small jobs were done as usage and funds dictated. The kitchen was fully equipped. No parking lines outside the doorwere being arranged.

January-June 2016
The no parking box was marked, damage to internal walls from an exuberant users had been plastered over and re-painted. Acoustic panels had arrived to help improve noise inside. The screen and projector from the village hall, since replaced, had been moved over and funds were obtained to add a speaker. Income from buoyant lettings was helping to pay off the loan. At the end of June, the final payment was made to contractors. A final round of thank you messages and reports were being sent to sponsors and supporters. The council thanks everyone who helped, and the names of companies and individuals who did so are on permanent display inside the building.

July 2016
A donation of £500 from the 2015 Rempstone Steam & Country Show provided a wireless speaker to go with the screen and projector; and protective panels for the table & chair storage alcove. Thanks to Show secretary and local resident Colin Fox who presented the cheque to the Chair, Janie Martin.