Honiton Community Centre: Town council answers questions

WITH work planned to start on The Beehive community centre complex next year, the Midweek Herald asked Honiton Town Council to answer 10 questions about the project. Those questions, along with the answers, are printed below:

WITH work planned to start on The Beehive community centre complex next year, the Midweek Herald asked Honiton Town Council to answer 10 questions about the project.

Those questions, along with the answers, are printed below:

Is it ever going to happen?

Yes, as long as we can raise the additional money to provide a building that meets the needs identified. The target date for commencing building is 2010.

Is the site big enough for the town's future needs?

We are satisfied that the current site can accommodate the principle needs identified. It will incorporate

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l A central hall with a capacity of 300 people, which will be adaptable for sub-dividing. It is envisaged that the hall will be used for a number of purposes including theatre groups, cinema, concerts, business conferences, wedding receptions, local group activities etc

l Backstage facilities of storage, changing rooms, WCs and a green room, which would double as a small meeting room/break out room

l A bar/caf� area with access to the Thelma Hulbert Gallery

l A booking office and centre manager's office

l Offices for town council staff, which can also be used to hold small meetings

l A council chamber/small meeting room

l An IT suite for use by general public/small businesses/councillors and organisations

What will happen if the council starts to build the centre and runs out of money?

This is being project managed by an experienced and qualified officer from East Devon District Council, who has made it very clear that no contracts will be awarded until the money is in place to finance the build.

Why does Honiton need a community centre?

Honiton has grown substantially over the past few years and its facilities have not kept pace with that expansion. In addition, Honiton is in a strategic place as a market town serving a wide catchment area. The centre will develop and enhance a sense of community, be able to cater for a wide range of leisure and cultural activities that currently have to be serviced outside the town and to continue to stimulate the economic health of the town. The community complex is being designed and built not only for the current population, but also as a legacy for the future generations. In conjunction with the expanding Thelma Hulbert Gallery and the nearby TIC, the complex will complete the central hub for the town. The urgent need for a facility such as the community complex is contained in the East Devon Local Plan as a priority and is recognised in the Devon Local Area Agreement, and the town council appreciates the significant faith and financial contribution that the district council is making to ensure the success of this project.

How do you know it's going to be used?

Professional market research and other consultations, such as the MCTi Vision for Honiton document, has consistently demonstrated local need. The complex will also fill the gap for a modern performance space that can be used by professionals and amateurs for theatre, concerts and cinema; it will also provide suitable premises for the business community to meet a growing demand. A centre manager will be appointed, who will maximise the potential use of the building.

What is the centre going to do for the town?

It will provide excellent and flexible facilities for all people in the town and surrounding area. It will help the continued vibrancy and economic development of the town by attracting new visitors. It will introduce people to new activities not currently available. It will enhance the offering in the town so that people do not have to travel further afield.

Why is this (the long stay car park behind Lace Walk) considered to be a suitable site?

A large number of sites have been considered, but Lace Walk is felt to be the most appropriate site available due to its central location with easy access to town centre, car parking, public transport and other key facilities, such as the Thelma Hulbert Gallery and the TIC. The site has been allocated by East Devon District Council, thus removing the need to raise additional funds for an alternative site.

How will the centre's facilities bring new activities into the town?

We have lost facilities such as dancing schools to other towns due to lack of facilities. The purpose built complex will mean that dancing at both professional and amateur levels can return to the town. Both cinema and theatre can return to the town after an absence of many years. Dramatic groups will have quality performance space and there will be opportunities for a broader range of music to be available. Local businesses will have a range of facilities according to their needs. The range of rooms will be available to meet individual community needs and local organisations including wedding receptions and birthday parties. There will be incorporation of the town and civic facilities into a building that are more fit for purpose and economically viable. IT facilities will give the opportunity to expand lifelong learning in conjunction with the community college, library and East Devon Business Centre. Exhibition space will be available. Facilities will be available to make the complex a central meeting place for all.

Who will use the centre?

The centre will be a welcoming venue for everyone to use.

How will it meet environmental and local needs?

The building is being planned to the highest environmental specification including solar panels and biomass energy. It will also, of course, have full disability access including a lift to the first floor.

n Do you have a question about The Beehive Community Centre? Send your questions to the Midweek Herald or town clerk Lyn Hargood.