Community Centre opponents win a banner battle but could lose the war
by William Mata | 20th November 2018
THE Paddock Wood Community Centre will cost nearly double its initial £1.5million estimate, to the anger of opponents.
Newly formed pressure group Friends of Memorial Playing Field are unhappy the planned multi-purpose venue will take up one sixth of the current green space. And the group had a victory this week as Paddock Wood Town Council agreed to change a banner at the field’s entrance, which reads ‘Site of the new Paddock Wood Community Centre’.
A new banner will read ‘Site of the proposed Paddock Wood Community Centre’ to signify that planning permission has not yet been sought.
Advanced RIBA Stage 3 plans will be voted on in a special meeting on January 23.
The authority has stated its desire for a ‘community resource’ to meet demands of the growing population. The centre, Paddock Wood’s first such venue, could house sport and community groups.
Cllr Rodney Atkins, of the Town Council, Cllr Rodney Atkins, of the Town Council, attended a meeting on Monday where it was confirmed to him, the cost of the centre had risen to £2.8million from the previous figure of £2.3 million.
“The residents felt the banner was misleading because it implies that permission has been granted,” he told the Times yesterday.
“It was agreed the word ‘proposed’ should have been in there and a new banner will be erected in two weeks’ time.”
He added that the council were told the quantity surveyor is ‘confident’ of getting the costs down and that this was a worst case scenario cost estimate.
Planning permission would be sought once RIBA Stage 3 is approved. If this is granted the building will commence later next year.
The centre will largely funded by Section 106 funding and a loan from the Public Works Loan Board. Wendy Morris said she has formed the Friends of Memorial Playing Field to protect the grounds and keep them as a space for recreation and leisure.
She has previously put forward a petition ‘that the council does not build on Memorial Field’ which received 594 signatures, and said she would prefer a centre at another location.
However, she also admitted that she feels the council ‘will probably get its way’.
“It’s a bit deflating, but I am not giving up yet,” she told the Times. “There is still the planning process and will need to consult with residents.”