Up to £250,000 for Hermitage's badly needed new village hall

Architect's drawings of the proposed new hallThanks to the Trust's Community Buildings Improvement Programme Hermitage will have a badly needed new village hall in 2015.

Hermitage Village Hall was originally built in 1841 for the 120 children of The Church School. It closed in 1913 when the County Council built a new school at the north end of the village and was managed as a village hall for many years by the church, until a number of energetic local residents purchased it in 1960 and re-opened the new hall in 1962. It became a popular venue, being the only community facility in Hermitage other than the school and the scout hut.

Since 1962, with a significant proportion of new housing having been built in the village, Hermitage's population has grown by 300% and the old village hall and its inadequate parking area became inadequate to accommodate all the uses that were being asked of it by various social, community and educational groups, including Pre-School, Horticultural Society, dancing classes, dog training classes, Youth Club and others. 

The new Hermitage Village Hall nearing completionThe old hall also suffered badly from high running and maintenance costs as a result of its age and there was no room to expand as the site is surrounded by housing and leads straight off the busy B4009.

Fortunately, the concept of a larger replacement hall was made an integral part of the agreement between West Berkshire Council and Miller Homes, the developers of Forest Edge, one of the two recent major housing developments in Hermitage.  The site of the new hall was chosen to be next to the playing field incorporated into the new development. 

The Trust awarded, under its CBIP funding scheme, up to £250,000 for the hall, match funding Hermitage Parish Council's contribution towards the project.  This, along with proceeds from the sale of the old hall and the planning gain from the Forest Edge development, means that the new hall was fully funded.

A new village hall was designed and planning permission was granted.  The new hall will actually be two halls, one large and one small, each with kitchen facilities, so that more community groups can be accommodated.  There will also be space available for changing rooms for use with the adjacent sports field.

The new Hermitage Village Hall, built by Claude Fenton Construction, is now open.