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Parish council seeks public views on new community centre for Hawkhurst

Hawkhurst could have a brand new community centre by as early as 2022, if all goes according to plan.

A village questionnaire undertaken in December 2017 found that 92% of respondents felt that a new community centre was urgently needed.

The proposed new community centre
The proposed new community centre

Hawkhurst Parish Council currently owns two centres: the Victoria Hall and the Copt Hall.

But since 2005, the Victoria Hall has been let to the Kino Cinema, and as a listed building would offer limited opportunities for redevelopment.

The Copt Hall is in poor condition and repairs are considered to be uneconomic.

In 2018, the Hawkhurst Community Trust was established to drive forward plans for a new hall.

The proposal is for a building designed by Cyma Architects to stand on the King George V Playing Field at The Moor end of the village.

Another perspective on the proposed community centre
Another perspective on the proposed community centre

It would offer a parish office, cafe, hall with stage, three meeting rooms, changing rooms for those using the sports pitches, a kitchen and a parish archive and have 50 parking spaces.

The existing football pitches would be unaffected.

Until plans are finalised, there is only an estimated cost of between £2m and £3m.

Part of the money would come from the sale of the Copt Hall and its redevelopment with three houses.

But the parish council would also have to take out a Public Works Building Loan, which would add to the parish precept and would need to be approved my a majority of residents in a parish poll.

The parish council is currently consulting residents on the ideas.

Details can be found online here.

There is also a public exhibition at the Royal British Legion Club in Rye Road on Tuesday, February 25. Drop in between 7pm and 9pm.

The consultation closes on March 1.

It is not the first time the village has sought to gain a new community centre.

Planning permission for a new centre on the KGV field was obtained in 2009, but the project stalled over funding issues and a renewed debate about whether it was the best location, with many preferring the Highgate-end of the village. Unfortunately no suitable plots at Highgate have come forward.

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