BYBROOK BOCKHANGER COMMUNITY FACILITY - COMMUNITY COUNCIL RESPONSE TO POST CONSULTATION SURVEY
Posted on 18th November 2021 at 10:09
The Community Council has prepared its own view on the five questions put at the end of the recent public consultation event.
These are set out below:
1 - Is having a new community centre important to you? Please expand or explain the reason for your answer, whether yes or no.
Yes. Available community facilities are all on the periphery of the Bybrook-Bockhanger area and outside of the daily life of residents. This has left the area without a focal point and heart.
2 - Given that there is no capacity to fund the community facility through s106 contributions or through the Council’s general fund, do you agree that a residential-led scheme that sees the community benefit of delivering affordable housing prioritised for those with a local connection as well as a new community facility is a sensible solution?
The Community Council asks the Chief Executive to reassess options for funding for a Community Hub on the site. A residential-led scheme has been the baseline assumption adopted by both Councils and may remain the most promising approach. But this should not be pursued to the exclusion of other funding sources, especially if the result is a facility which does not meet residents’ needs fully or is too small to be viable. Two years have passed since the initial assessment was made. Commitments to major projects such as the Stour Centre have been completed and the passage of time may have released funds which could supplement those available through the Housing Revenue Account. Incorporating adjacent land might also increase the options available.
3 - In your opinion, how should any new community facility in your local area be managed to ensure that it benefits and services the needs of all members of the local community?
The Community Council will support management arrangements which involve local residents directly or indirectly. It is exploring the option of taking on the lease itself and establishing a residents’ advisory body, with a view to creating within 3-5 years a Trust to run the facility. An alternative could be to create a Trust immediately, which might allow access to grant-giving bodies, but the practicality of this has not yet been assessed fully.
4 – Why do you think that the previous community centre was not well supported, or underutilised?
This question was covered in the February 2020 questionnaire to which 600 residents responded. The Executive Summary of those responses includes the following:
“People said they didn’t use the old community centre because it didn’t offer anything of interest to respondents, they didn’t need to use it as their needs were met elsewhere, because it was inaccessible or they didn’t know what was offered or where it was. The condition of the building and the perceptions of the square in which it was located were also deterrents.”
The Community Council has no reason to questions these results.
5 – Is there a reason or barrier that prevents you from using any of the facilities available and identified in the wider areas of Kennington and Ashford?
The facilities in the Kennington area generally are targeted to specific groups, such as the Women’s Institute and Scouts/Guides/Cubs/Brownies, and are otherwise only open when they have been booked by a group hiring them. There is no casual drop-in attraction such as a café or under 5s play area. They are on the periphery of the Bybrook-Bockhanger locality and not situated next to places which put them on the daily route, such as shops. For residents with limited mobility, getting to them may be difficult. An attractive facility in the heart of the locality will provide a place capable of breaking down social isolation for all age groups. It may attract people from a wider area but residents can expect to find the majority of people coming from close to their own home and hence having to some extent a shared daily experience to which they can relate.
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