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Monday, 22 December 2014

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Work starts on £500,000 Cumbrian village hall

Work has started to build a new £500,000 environmentally-friendly community hub.

Bothel hall photo
Rebuild chairman Richard Watson, left, with project co-ordinator Raymond Wren in the old hall

The current Bothel village hall premises is being knocked down and replaced with the new building, which will be as close to carbon-neutral as possible. The scheme was made possible thanks to a £473,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

It is expected that the building will be finished by February or March 2015.

Project co-ordinator Raymond Wren is delighted that work is getting underway. He said the old hall was cold and damp.

“It’s a great thing for the community because we have suffered in a worn-out building for many years,” he said.

“We are now more than two years down the line since we started the application for funding.

“There’s nothing in the village for young people and children and we are committed to providing facilities for them.

“Health and well-being is also a major consideration that we are committed to doing something about. I’m looking forward to seeing it all come together and it’s been a long trail – it’s good to see it get to this stage.”

The old hall was used by a number of groups for activities including the Women’s Institute, art classes, gardening groups, Zumba, bowling and bingo.

The heating system was inefficient, there was a lack of disabled facilities, and it was difficult to access for elderly people.

Mr Wren said that new events will be held in the eco-friendly hall once it is constructed.

“We have a lot of ideas including ‘tea and chat’ or ‘coffee and crack’ events.

“These are all things put to us by people through the questionnaire that we did. People have volunteered to set up a lot of clubs.”

The new premises, designed by Kendal-based architects EcoArc, will have under-floor heating and thick insulation to retain heat.

The company says that its aim is to deliver projects that achieve reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and energy consumption.

Groups that previously used the hall have been allowed to use premises at the village school – St Michael’s – temporarily.

Headteacher Andy May is optimistic about the potential the new building will bring.

He said: “We have made arrangements with people to access the school. The governors and myself offered the school a long time ago because we didn’t want activities to stop. It’s important to keep them going.

“While it’s being built we want to go and see the progress because it’s quite exciting to see it being constructed.

“The children were interested in seeing a model of it and it helps to visualise what it’s going to be like.”

A Big Lottery Fund spokesman said that the location of Bothel means residents are dependent on personal or infrequent public transport to enable them to get to services outside the village.

He added: “The new hall will include a foyer, main hall, multi-function meeting room, kitchen, bar, toilets and storage.

“It will continue to offer existing services and activities such as bingo, First Responders and its gardening club, but will expand what is available to take part in, with a particular focus on older and younger people.”

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