Please see 'The Future of the Hall' page for most recent updates.
Update on Village Hall future December 2016
A questionaire was sent out with the Neighbourhood Plan and we are now in the process of analysing all the data that we have received. This data only includes residents of Holwell and we will also need to take into account users of the hall who are not residents. There is still overwhelming support for the continuation of a village hall in Holwell, however, there needs to be more discussion about what the village needs and wants for the future. The hall trustees will be seeking funding in the near future to produce a feasability study into a few likely scenarios with costings and timescales so that they can be fully discussed by residents and hall users. This way we will be able to go forward with the village hall development plan that the majority of interested parties want in Holwell.
Update on Village Hall future August 2016
As reported at the Village Hall AGM in May, the Trustees had investigated the possibility of building aa new hall
next to the existing hall, and had reached agreement in principle with Sherborne Estates and the Mitchell family
for road frontage land and an area to the rear for recreation. A pre-planning application was sent to West Dorset
District Council in April with a very basic plan showing the outline of a new village hall based on Morden
village hall (26m by 16m) next to the existing hall site, on which three open market houses were proposed.
A formal response to the application was received in July which essentially agreed with the proposal for a new hall, but not for the housing element since it conflicted with the policy of the Local Plan.
In the response, the planning officer suggested that a new village hall funded through open market housing
on the existing site – an ‘enabling development’ - could best be achieved by engaging in the neighbourhood
In light of the Neighbourhood Plan now being actively progressed with Sally-Anne Holt as chair, the
Village Hall Committee agreed it should work closely with the Neighbourhood Plan team and the
Parish Council, perhaps through the creation of a working group. We can then jointly establish
residents’ current views more precisely so that we can work on specific options to present to the
village for residents to consider and decide upon.
Under the Village Hall trust deed, no decision as to the future of the hall can be made without the support of
the majority of the village and we will keep you informed of our progress on a regular basis. In the meantime, we
will ensure that the hall is kept clean and tidy for all those who use it.
If you notice anything which you think needs attention, please contact one of the Trustees.
Update on Village Hall 11 April 2016
The Trustees are very aware that before any decision can be made about a new village hall a meeting must be called
to obtain the approval of a majority of residents of Holwell aged 18 and over, under the condition of Clause 14 of
the Village Hall Trust Deed. The result from the Questionnaire concerning Holwell continuing to have a village hall has provided the mandate to explore possibilities, given the hall’s limited prospects. With this in mind we have recently visited Morden Village Hall and met William Beveridge of Sherborne Castle Estates.
The trip to Morden included a guided tour of their village hall, detailed information on their running costs and revenue over the last two years and an account of their journey towards obtaining a new hall. You can see what they have achieved by checking their website: www.mordenvillagehall.org.uk. The whole project was achieved almost entirely by grant support which was better at that time. The design of their hall fits well into a rural location and the layout allows multiple hires. Morden has a smaller population than Holwell, no shop but a pub. We were particularly interested in comparing our main overhead costs and noted that their heating bills were proportionately lower than Holwell’s when compared to their level of usage. Insurance costs were only £168 p.a. higher because the major element relates to public liability insurance. The much higher standards of insulation required in new buildings obviously reduces energy costs. Their hire rates are not dissimilar to those at Holwell even though their facilities are far superior. The hiring charges for Morden Village Hall can be found on their website. In comparison to their original hall, they have found the attractive facilities have brought additional revenue from hires for events such as parties and weddings.
We were very grateful for the time and information given to us by Mary their busy Trustee and Secretary, who is also a Parish Councillor and on the Executive Committee of the Dorset Village Halls Association. The latter is an organisation Holwell Village Hall will now join and we look forward to the opportunities that will arise from networking with village hall charities that have shared circumstances similar to ours.
The following day a meeting took place with William Beveridge of Sherborne Castle Estates. The discussions covered an arrangement to purchase a freehold site adjacent to the current hall on the Kings Stag side, for a new hall and car park. The freehold purchase of this site will be conditional on obtaining planning permission - which is a policy supported by the recently adopted West Dorset District Council Local Plan. The additional purchase of the freehold of the current car park in order to sell the combined current hall site and car park for housing development, to raise funds (and enabling development) for the new hall is not as straightforward because Holwell does not have a defined settlement boundary. Several meetings have taken place with planning staff at WDDC to explain our circumstances. To explore the possibility of open market housing development and minimise planning application costs, the Trustees have made a “pre-application” submission to WDDC and hope to receive a response in time for our AGM. This response will provide an indication of the prospects for a successful planning application. If planning approval is not obtained there is the possibility that inclusion of the current hall site and car park for housing development could be achieved through its designation in a Neighbourhood Plan for Holwell. You will know from the Parish Council that the first Neighbourhood Plan consultation meetings will be taking place in the Village Hall this Thursday evening and on Saturday morning.
Finally, some more certain news about obtaining land for village events and recreational use. The Mitchell family of Holwell Hill Farm have very kindly offered to give up an area of land immediately behind the current Village Hall. Sherborne Castle Estates have advised the Trustees that this ground can be rented on a 125-year lease and for more immediate use a license to occupy can be granted. This means we can start making plans to give access to residents to kick a football, run around, have a picnic or just sit and admire the views or fly a kite whilst the windy weather persists. It will NOT be an area to exercise dogs.