Council applies to replace 20th century village hall after structural weaknesses are discovered

PUBLISHED: 13:00 27 May 2017 | UPDATED: 15:55 27 May 2017

Watchfield Village Hall.

Watchfield Village Hall.

Archant

An 84-year-old village hall near Highbridge could be demolished.

Burnham Without Parish Council has applied to Sedgemoor District Council for planning permission to knock down Watchfield Village Hall, in Mark Road, and replace it with a new building.

The hall, which can seat up to 100 people, was opened on January 25, 1933 and cost just £189 to build through money raised by residents.

Since then it has undergone a series of extensions, with the last built in 1952, to add new facilities including toilets, a storeroom and a kitchen.

But following a report in 2015 which revealed structural weaknesses, the council has applied to demolish it in favour of building a safer and more modern village hall.

Maureen Phillips, hall treasurer, said: “Two years ago it was agreed at a trustee meeting to start to refurbish the exterior of the hall.

“It is a small wooden building that was constructed in 1933 and has been kept in a reasonable state of repair over the years, but now it is showing signs of age.

“We asked a local architect to help us and after looking at the hall it was agreed a local structural engineer should also look at the building.

“We were told the building was not up to current standards and we should probably consider rebuilding.

“We took advice from various people and especially the Community Council for Somerset.

“It was agreed we should try to raise funds to have a new hall built.

“The building will be on the same footprint as the old hall, the same size but a modern brick-built structure that will hopefully stand and serve the community for many years.”

The new hall will also include toilets and a kitchen, as well as storage space for tables and chairs.

Despite having to be temporarily strengthened with internal scaffolding, the hall continues to be used and hosts regular events throughout the year to raise funds including harvest lunches, summer fairs, wedding receptions and flower shows.

It is the only public building in the hamlets of Watchfield, Edithmead and Southwick.

The consultation period for this application expires on June 9.

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