History – Our Village Hall – Phase 1

We have been in the fortunate position of building a new village hall in North Middleton. The costs for building the new hall were be paid in the main from planning gains from the recent Persimmon Homes development and the present development by Kenmore Homes (previously A B Hamilton). Planning gains may be used by the council for a variety of projects, so we are appreciative that the majority of the planning gain, which was in excess of £220,000, was earmarked for the new hall. However, the rising cost of construction meant that this would not meet all the costs of constructing the new hall, so we needed to apply to other sources for more funding.

 

Local residents and hall user groups were consulted in order to ensure that the planned hall meets the needs of the community. These requirements have formed the basis of discussions between ourselves, Joe Holmes of J R Harris & Partners (architects, and our project managers), the developers A B Hamilton, Ltd.(and latterly Kenmore Homes) and the planning and strategic services departments of Midlothian Council.

Advanced plans were presented to the village at an open meeting on 8th December 2004. There was unanimous agreement that they represented a significant improvement on those that had been presented before, and that we should proceed on the basis of these new plans. These plans were submitted to the planning department for comments.

Feedback from the planning department was that something more “21st century” would be preferable to the plans submitted. The plans were redesigned a couple of times, leaving us with a more modern looking hall which was preferred by some (but not all!) of the committee. These plans however were costed significantly higher than the original ones, leaving us with a problem. A compromise design was arrived at, being very similar to the design accepted by the village as a whole in December 2004. Planning permission and building warrant applications were made.

Even though we managed to cut back on costs, the design was still considerably outwith our budget, and we also needed to take into account professional fees for design and management of the project and legal costs. The shortfall funding would normally be available from the National Lottery scheme, but applications were not being entertained during the timescale of our fundraising effort, so we tried to raise the funding from other sources, with the option of potentially simplifying the hall plans yet further if we were not successful. By early 2006, we had been successful in raising £30,000 from Leader+, £25,000 from WREN and an additional £25,000 donated by A B Hamilton for early surrender of the hall lease.

The budget available was sufficient to build a new hall, albeit downsized compared to our original plans. However, in spring 2006, we received anonymous donation(s) which allowed us to continue with the project as originally envisaged. Furthermore, a grant was awarded by SCHRI in December 2006 towards the ground source heat pump installation.

Meanwhile, contractors were approached for quotations. The footprint and internal specifications were finalised (including a kitchen extension), and building warrant was received from the council.

Work began on 28th September 2006, and despite unrelenting storms, the main structure was in place and roof tiled by early 2007. The underfloor heating pipes were installed and screeded over by early February. Electrical work and plastering continued inside, while external finishes were applied outside.

The ground loop for the heating system was laid in March, and the heat pump arrived for connection at the end of the month. By April, the heating system was in full operation, drying out the screed in preparation for laying the wooden floor. A permanent water supply was attached and temporary electricity supply was replaced by a permanent one.

By early May, the wooden floor in the main hall was being laid and plumbing work being completed. Flooring was laid in the toilets and kitchen and the kitchen fitted. Outside the hall, the paths around the hall were laid, including a patio outside the main hall doors. The road surfacing was also completed to allow car access to the hall’s car park.

By mid-May, only the panelling remained to be completed externally. The hall was already usable inside, with tables and chairs having been delivered, and the kitchen ready to go, along with a full set of brand new crockery. The demountable stage also arrived, and the hall was ready for the first evening events on the 19th and 26th May.

As ever, the final touches seem to take ages when your builder is busy on his next job! But over the early summer, the panelling was completed and PA and stage lighting fully installed. With the scaffolding finally coming down on the 1st August, the hall now looks and is ready to go. It was a long road, but the end result makes it all worthwhile and we hope you all enjoy the new hall.

After the first few months of use, we find that the downsized hall we ended up building is not quite big enough for some functions, and also severely lacking on storage. Enter “Phase 2” where we hope to solve these problems with some strategically placed extensions. See ‘Our Village Hall Phase 2 for more info.