In 2016, the Council commissioned a condition survey of Hersham Village Hall and the neighbouring Hersham Centre for the Community. The survey identified several serious fire safety issues needing immediate attention. Due to the very significant work needed in the hall and the associated costs, the difficult decision was taken to close Hersham Village Hall.
It was recognised that the Council could not hire out a facility without guaranteeing complete public safety. In this case the safety of the hall could not be provided without a comprehensive upgrade of the building. Closure was the only immediate option. Support was provided to guide affected hirers to suitable alternative facilities in the area. At the same time the Council agreed to invest significant sums to protect services at the Hersham Centre for the Community by upgrading the centre building. The improved building was re-opened after 6 weeks and is operating well.
In the autumn of 2018, the Council set up a Councillor group to review the position with the hall and to look at options to provide enhanced community facilities on the hall and centre site. One of the options was to consider the re-opening the village hall. As residents know, a questionnaire was also sent out to 6,000 residents to ask for their views. The response to the public questionnaire was excellent with 1,131 responses received.
A large number of respondents merely wish to see the hall facility re-opened. Others would be interested in the creation of a new flexible space for different activities. There were also some views that there is enough housing provision in the area already, so no additional housing should be developed on the site, whilst others were supportive of some affordable housing on the site. A summarised analysis of the questionnaire responses is now available. These views will inform the discussions that Ward Councillors will have in the coming weeks as more information becomes available.
The recently commissioned condition survey of the hall now includes the government’s new requirements on energy efficiency standards required in all public buildings. The hall is currently in poor condition and the energy efficiency of the building is well below the legally required levels for public buildings. This would mean that simply re-opening the hall will require much more extensive improvement than previously anticipated and would involve much greater expense.
The Council is waiting for this survey to be finalised in order to assess the full scale of the works required and the associated costs. Given the state of the building and the layout of the hall, we are also exploring options which include providing an enhanced community centre/facility on site without impacting on the continuing operation of the Hersham Centre for the Community. There will be further consultations with residents when this information is received so that Councillors can review what will be possible, practical and affordable. Central to all the on-going discussions will be the continuation and continuity of services on the site and the longer-term improvements that will enhance the current facilities.
We will keep residents informed through your Ward councillors over the next few months.