AN EXCITING OPPORTUNITY
There is an exciting opportunity to take advantage of a housing development by using S106 to secure half a hectare of land on which to build a combined use building for the community. The emerging Saffron Walden Neighbourhood Plan has identified the need for another community building in the town. This should be a flexible, creative space to foster intergenerational interaction. There is an emerging partnership between Saffron Screen and the CommunityHub Management Committee, which could include the S/W Arts Trust and the S/W Photographic Society and other interested organisations.
The land would be ideal to build a flexible community space which could incorporate two cinema screens with a possible third if needed. A cafe and rooms for hire, performance space, educational facilities, potential offices, adequate parking, space for the creative industries, the potential for interaction with physical and mental health professionals and a meeting space for the whole community.
This opens up possibilities for:
A Community Hub could have the potential for a huge range of customers; the possibility to cater for large and differing audiences and appeal to a large spectrum of people throughout the community. Combining various services in places where people gather naturally is ideal. The building would have the ability to promote inclusivity, enterprise and engagement and will aim to set an example of sustainability, healthy life-styles and creativity, working with all ages and abilities to develop their aspirations and full potential.
The beauty of a flexible multi-use space is it’s opportunity to cater for the changing demands of the community, a popular activity one month may become less popular the next. A Community Hub has the ability to develop with these trends and needs, allowing it to become a sustainable and cohesive part of the community scene. Saffron Screen has proved an outstanding community asset and has grown from strength to strength and they have been exploring the possibility of new exciting facilities including a cafe and extending their opening hours. Another popular local organisation, The Saffron Walden Arts Trust have been searching for a suitable venue for some years.
Saffron Walden Camera Club is another local organisation who would fit with the Hub’s creative industries alongside opportunities for training and employment in the creative media. There is potential for including a long leased office suite and if needed in the future, library facilities.
One example of a successful Community Hub is to be found at Melbourne in Cambridgeshire (http://melbournhub.co.uk). It houses the local Parish Council offices, the library, a cafe with free WiFi and meeting rooms available for rental. It also offers a range of key community support services and aims to be a focus point for assistance and advice. It has been running for some years and offers a light-filled, welcoming, modern space to visit and use for leisure or business.
In it’s own words : “with such a wide range of facilities and services provided in one place for the whole community it is the place to relax, study, meditate, have lunch, meet friends, or just watch the world go by !”.
This is just the sort of building that Saffron Walden lacks and the need is increasing with every new development and many more families moving into the area. The project “ticks” many funding opportunities but the over-riding need is for the land on which to put the building. The Kier application on the opposite side of the road could open up the possibility of acquiring, through S106, the necessary half a hectare on the land near the Lord Butler Leisure Centre.
See below for the policies which support this initiative:
In the Saffron Walden Neighbourhood Plan community consultation 90% of the consultees agreed with a policy to “Ensure new developments of significant size include local community facilities e.g. shops, leisure facilities, parks and open spaces”.
Uttlesford Reg 18 policy D1 advocates that “New buildings should be designed with flexibility and adaptability in mind, so that they can respond to changing social, environmental, economic and technological needs”.
The Essex Design Guide 2018 states “The principle of co-locating community facilities applies to both major and smaller scale developments; in the latter case a new community building can be designed to incorporate multiple uses”.
The Government’s National Planning Policy Framework states that the planning system should “deliver the social, recreational and cultural facilities and services that the community needs, planning policies should plan positively for the provision and use of shared space and community facilities”.
Stephen Platt, in Lessons from Cambourne, published by Cambridge Architectural Research Ltd. wrote:
“A new settlement like Cambourne needs a place, like a community hall, for people to meet from very early on. And, importantly, it also needs more informal meeting places that can be accessed by non-joiners that are status and stigma free.”