The journey so far
The need and desire for a new community centre for Hawkhurst has been apparent for some years. Of the two community halls owned by Hawkhurst Parish Council, Victoria Hall has been leased to the Kino Digital cinema since 2005, while Copt Hall has gradually been getting beyond economic repair. It is not able to serve the needs of a growing village in accommodating the many and varied clubs, groups and meetings, plus social events, and lacks suitable parking.
The question of a new community centre for Hawkhurst was first raised in response to the Village Appraisal in 2001, when residents were surveyed door to door. Over the ensuing years, between 2001 and 2008, a number of surveys and feasibility studies were carried out to get a picture of residents’ leisure and recreation activities and the suitability of local facilities. Public exhibitions were held to inform residents about the outcomes of such studies and possible options for the siting of a new community centre. In 2008 the Parish Council, having considered the views of villagers, agreed to proceed with detailed plans for a new community centre at the King George V Playing Field site on Moor Hill. In early 2009 designs for the new community facility were made public and after public consultation by TWBC planning consent was granted in May 2009. The building cost for the project was estimated at £2 million.
When all seemed set to proceed, the project stalled due to funding issues and a renewed debate as to the site location of the new community centre.
A fresh start
The need for a modern, suitable community centre remained, as Hawkhurst grew as a village. This was demonstrated by the village questionnaire of December 2017 which showed that 92% of respondents considered that a new community centre was urgently needed.
In 2018 the quest for a new community centre gained new impetus with the establishment of Hawkhurst Community Trust 2018 (HCT 2018), an independent registered charity run by local volunteers. HCT 2018 was set up at the instigation of Hawkhurst Parish Council which believed it would be best for the community to be involved in shaping and running the new facility. HCT 2018 then embarked on fundamental research, engaging with local residents and users of existing halls, and making site visits to village halls in the area in order to find a blueprint for a multi-function, successful community centre that reflects and meets the various needs of a growing community. Findings from independent work carried out by Hawkhurst Parish Council and HCT 2018 fed into the emerging design brief for the shape of the new building and its infrastructure.
Site location and design
In January 2019, after considering a range of locations, Hawkhurst Parish Council made the final decision on the site of the new community centre – it will be built at the King George V Playing Field, Moor Hill, Hawkhurst TN18 4NY. Hawkhurst Parish Council will oversee the development and building of the new community centre.
In May 2019 the Parish Council published an architect client brief and invitation to tender, inviting architects to submit proposals for the development of the new community centre in Hawkhurst. The brief incorporated research and findings by both the Parish Council and HCT 2018. Of the three architectural practices chosen by HPC to present their proposals, Cyma Architects, based in Folkestone, was appointed to design the new Hawkhurst community centre.
A public consultation on the initial design took place between 20th January and 1st March 2020. All comments were fed into to an amended design that will then go forward for planning permission in November 2020.
Hawkhurst Parish Council will put the construction of the new community centre building out to tender and will be will be responsible for seeking funds for the building costs.
The opening of the new community centre is scheduled for 2022/23. From that point on, Hawkhurst Community Trust 2018 will oversee the day-to-day operation of the centre.
Further information is held by Hawkhurst Parish Council.