The Council discussed the implications of the planning conditions and future of the project at the November Full Council meeting, and it was decided that the Council would consult residents about whether to proceed with the project.
Below are minutes of the meeting and links to papers that were considered by the Council alongside other representations.
Minute and Council Resolution
The following is from the official minutes of the November Council Meeting
“The Council considered a paper about the planning permission and the changes from the original submission, and a revised estimated cost and its impact of the Council Tax. No councillor spoke in favour of proceeding with the project, rather the consensus was that now was not the time to progress such a project, the building was too big, and too expensive as it would more than double the Parish Council Tax. It was acknowledged that times had changed since the project was first imagined. However, given it had been part of the Council’s ambition for so long and significant money had already been spent on bringing the project to planning, it was generally felt that residents should again be consulted, and we needed to try and reach as many people as possible and for residents to be made aware of the cost as well as the potential benefits.
Cllr Escombe, proposed a resolution: “To undertake a process of public consultation to determine whether residents want HPC to proceed with the proposed new community centre (as per the planning permission) or to focus on developing and enhancing our existing facilities to meet the village’s needs.”
Cllr Green suggested that as the Parish Council which had up until now been the champion and proposer of the project should be expected to have a view and the Council should therefore include a recommendation to the village, or else it would be assumed that we were still in favour of pressing ahead with the project. Cllr Green’s proposed an amendment was to add: “The Council will state its view and make a recommendation as part of the consultation.”
The amendment was put to the vote and was carried by 8 votes to 5 votes. Cllr Faulkner asked for the names recorded, in a recorded vote. Those in favour of Cllr Green’s amendment: Cllrs Anderson, Eccles, Cross, Green, Hunt, Lloyd-Owen, Paish, & Ridley. Those against the Council providing an opinion: Cllrs Blake, Cory, Escombe, Faulkner & Veale.
The Council resolved:
“To undertake a process of public consultation to determine whether residents want HPC to proceed with the proposed new community centre as per the planning permission, or to focus on developing and enhancing our existing facilities to meet the village’s needs. The Council will state its view and make a recommendation as part of the consultation.”
The SAP Committee will consider the practicalities of such a consultation and bring back proposals to the Full Council in the New Year.”
Planning Permission Granted
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council granted planning permission on 15th July 2022, with a range of conditions.
The decision notice and the 50 planning documents associated with the application can be found here.
New Community Centre Consultation – March 2020
Ninety consultation forms were submitted with a total of 372 comments: Community Centre Consultation Feedback Report – March 2020
Draft views and site plans can be seen here.
The current community hall, Copt Hall was originally thought to be beyond economical repair. A range of locations for a new hall was considered and we know that the preference is near Highgate. However, in January 2019 Hawkhurst Parish Council decided the King George V Playing Field was the only available location.
In early 2020 the project was highlighted at various village events: Village Fete, Farmers Market and U3A Picnic. A public meeting was also held in 2015, minutes of which can be found here.
Hawkhurst Community Trust 2018, an independent charity, was planning to oversee the day-to-day operation of the centre. Hawkhurst Community Trust 2018
Frequently Asked Questions – November 2021
We planned to break the project into stages.
- Drainage of football pitches (2022-23);
- Over flow car park (2023-24);
- Building technical design and costs (2024);
- Building tender (2024-25);
- Playground move (2025-26); and,
- Building construction (2025-27).
Between 2019 and 2022 a working group and then a committee managed the project, now it is the Full Council. This link is to the old committee agenda and minutes.