Dead­line for hall on bor­rowed time

Costs to re­pair cen­tre as­sessed at £765,000

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - NEWS - by Alan Smith aj­smith@thek­m­group.co.uk @aj­smithKM

Maid­stone coun­cil will de­cide in De­cem­ber what to do about the only “vil­lage hall” it owns in the bor­ough.

Heather House in Bic­knor Road, Park Wood, has been liv­ing on bor­rowed time since the end of last year, when of­fi­cers or­dered its clo­sure af­ter se­ri­ous prob­lems emerged with the build­ing.

A cam­paign by the Park Wood Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion and ward coun­cil­lor Matt Bur­ton (Con) - which in­cluded a 758-sig­na­ture pe­ti­tion - suc­ceeded in per­suad­ing the coun­cil to carry out emer­gency re­pairs. This al­lowed the com­mu­nity cen­tre to re-open in April while in­ves­ti­ga­tions were car­ried out into its fu­ture.

Mem­bers of the com­mu­ni­ties, hous­ing and en­vi­ron­ment com­mit­tee heard an in­de­pen­dent sur­vey as­sessed the re­pairs needed.

It found prob­lems with the heat­ing boiler, roof, cladding, doors and win­dows and es­ti­mated to bring the build­ing back into good enough re­pair to last an­other 15 years would cost £765,000.

Cllr Bur­ton said the re­port was “very painful read­ing.”

Cllr Daniel Rose (Con) said: “Heather House is the only vil­lage hall Maid­stone coun­cil owns. We have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to the peo­ple of Park Wood who re­ally need some­thing like this.

The coun­cil will be pre­sented with a fur­ther re­port in De­cem­ber out­lin­ing op­tions for the po­ten­tial de­mo­li­tion of the hall and its re­place­ment with a new com­mu­nity cen­tre, part-funded by sell­ing land for hous­ing, as an al­ter­na­tive to re­pairs. But there was a warn­ing the hous­ing wouldn’t gen­er­ate ma­jor sums.

Heather House in Park Wood faces an un­cer­tain fu­ture

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