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The Welney Website

New Parish Hall proposals, June 2006

report first posted June 2006 in "news and view"; this page created Feb 2010, amended/updated Monday, 13 October 2014
Welney Parish Hall front & side view

JUNE 2006
This is the first of a series of reports by the webmaster on the new community building proposed by the Parish Council.
You can dip into any of them, but to get a clearer understanding the reports are best read in date order as shown at bottom right of this page.


Does Welney Parish Hall have a future?

Most Welneyites will know that there is some doubt over the future of our elderly but much loved Parish Hall (above right).

Since 1929 the Hall has been a focus for social gatherings and public meetings. Its location on the bank of the Old Bedford River, the proximity of two pubs - the adjacent Three Tuns (now sadly closed) and the Lamb & Flag (happily still going strong), and ample parking courtesy of Elgood's Brewery, have greatly enhanced its appeal.

The Rumour

In October 2004, during public participation at a meeting of Welney Parish Council, a parishioner advised Council that it was rumoured that Elgood's Brewery are not going to build the seven houses on the site of the old Three Tuns, even though they had planning permission, but instead are considering building a new pub on the site but would need the Parish Hall land as well. The hall site is owned by the Environment Agency (EA) and leased to the Council until March 2016.

In January 2005 the Council met directors of Elgoods who confirmed that the idea was one of several options they were considering. Following further discussions with Elgoods and negotiations with the EA, it was finally agreed by the three parties that the EA would sell the Parish Hall site to the Council who would then sell it to Elgoods at an agreed mark-up.

The Plan

On 3rd June 2006, the Parish Council held an Open Meeting at the Hall to unveil their plans for a new building. Sadly, only 15 parishioners turned up to the hear the Council's proposals. The Council Chairman, Ken Goodger, at his genial best, gave an able presentation of a computer slide show prepared very professionally by Cllr. Trevor Bray. It outlined the possible sale of the site to Elgoods, and the Council's suggested replacement - a community centre overlooking the Playing Field on land north of Marifa Lodge, with access from Wisbech Road near Sandgate Corner.

This proposal would involve the sale & demolition of the Pavilion for housing. Shame it's one of the few areas of Welney at risk of flooding according to the EA. Would anyone get a mortgage for a new house there? We also learned that the Council examined 28 or 29 sites in Welney and have concluded that the only possible site in the Parish for a playing field is - just where it has been since 1971!

The meeting did show that when the Council want to tell us something they can do it very well. Unfortunately, it was all old news.

Background History

For anyone who hasn't followed this saga, the background is briefly as follows.

Elgoods Brewery owns two pub properties in Welney. The Three Tuns, empty and now nearly derelict, and the Lamb & Flag, suffering badly from subsidence.

The Council also has two buildings. The Parish Hall, poorly heated and not complying with legislation, and a Pavilion at the Playing Field, small and basic, and also non-compliant.

The Brewery claim it would be uneconomic to repair the Lamb & Flag, and the Three Tuns site is too small to make re-building viable. The Council consider that the Parish can only sustain one building (backed by results from the recent questionnaire), in both economic and management terms.

So, If the the Hall is sold to Elgoods, the Council will be relieved of one property and get some cash, and the Brewery would have enough space on the river bank to build a super new pub.

The Council feel confident that revenue from asset sales together with grants and charitable donations will go a long way towards the £150,000-£200,000 they say the new building will cost.

The Problems

Of course there are some flies in the ointment. The Council do not own the Hall site. They lease it from the EA. The Council say the EA have agreed to allow the Council to buy it and sell it on at a profit to Elgoods.

Then there is the question of buying and selling land at the Playing Field and getting planning permission for all these proposed new buildings, none of which has yet been sought.

As a member of a previous group that looked into a new Hall a few years ago said,  there are a lot of hurdles to jump over to obtain grants. Let's hope the Councillors have the stamina to stay the course.

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Does the Parish Hall have a future?

The EA say they will not sell the site until an alternative building is available. We have not been told whether the Pavilion meets their criteria, so we will have to wait and see. But knowing how long negotiations and the legal process can take it will probably see at least a couple more new years in.

When will we see a new Community Centre? Well how many years do you think? Answers please to the Council.


Aug 2013 The Parish Council eventually realised they will never raise the funds for a grand new Community Hall and are now planing a much more modest modular new Pavilion that will also provide a replacement for the Hall.

Jun 2014 The Council relinquished the task of managing the project to a dedicated non-council group chaired by John Loveday. More about that in due course, in the meantime you can see the group's plans for the New Pavilion using the link on the right.
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