Following lengthy research, discussions and reviews, the Town Council decided in 2019 that its earlier plan to build a comprehensive new Community Centre on the site of Tomkins Park was never going to be achievable for a variety of reasons. It decided instead to embark on a project to make best use of, and enhance, existing community facilities in the centre of the town. In essence this is expected to take the form of a two-phase development
- Make improvements to the existing Public Hall
- Build a new Community and Sports Building on the recreation ground, replacing and enhancing the existing sports club buildings
Before the second phase can happen, though, it will be necessary to create a new children's playground within a small area of Tomkins Park. This is in order to make space for the parking that will be required to support the new Community and Sports Building, as well as addressing the inadequacy of town-centre parking that has existed for many years.
As a start to this whole project the Town Council employed consultants to confirm the feasibility of these proposals, and then commissioned those consultants to draw up detailed proposals for the first phase involving the making of improvements to the Public Hall and its immediate surrounds. The Council has now submitted a planning application for this phase of works.
The scheme involves the replacement of the single-storey extension at the western (High Street) end of the building with a larger extension that will provide a new entrance hall, toilets, plant room and kitchen/servery. This extension will then allow the existing Gents and Ladies toilets to be converted for use as changing rooms. A new corridor will be constructed behind the stage to provide a safe back-stage route between the two wings. The existing kitchen and small meeting room alongside the stage will be merged to create a much larger meeting room, which can also function as an extra back-stage room for concert or theatrical performances.
Solar PV panels with battery storage will be installed on the south-facing roof to reduce the carbon footprint of the building. Outside the western (High Street) end of the building the plans are to tidy up this part of Winslow by creating a new pedestrian-priority area that will include 10 "Sheffield-style" cycle racks as well as new planters and improved lighting. Sufficient space will be retained for vehicles to access those adjacent premises which have rights over the area, but parking will no longer be possible in this area. The rough track on the south side of the Hall will also be paved to create a shared-use right of way that joins with the cycleway and the access to Tomkins Park & Arboretum.
Vehicular access to the Public Hall generally will continue to be by way of the Public Hall car park, but caterers' vehicles will have direct access to the kitchen on the south side of the Hall.
The Town Council is grateful to Buckinghamshire Council's Community Board for a significant contribution towards the cost of the feasibility study, whilst the principal source of funding for delivering the improvements will be from developer contributions that have been collected over recent years for the provision of local sport and leisure facilities within the town.
The full planning application is available to be viewed on Buckinghamshire Council's planning web site by following this link. Planning consent was granted in August 2021 and our architects are proceeding with preparations to let a contract for the project to be implemented as soon as possible in 2022.