71 years from conception, planning finally granted for Potton Hall for All

Bedford based architects practice, Woods Hardwick, has just been granted planning permission to proceed with the construction of a new community hall, Potton Hall for All, in Potton, Bedfordshire. The hall will provide a hub for local people and will accommodate a wide range of activities from celebrations, meetings and educational classes, to sport activities and performances.

The idea for a hall was mooted in 1946 and it has taken over 70 years to reach this point. It is estimated the project build will cost £2.3m.

Set to be built on the south edge of the new Tall Trees housing development, Potton Hall for All will include a 416m² main hall, a kitchen, bar, foyer, two meeting rooms and ancillary facilities.

Construction is due to commence as soon as the funds are raised, a process currently under progress. The local community has been actively fundraising for the project for the past five years and has taken a creative approach to raising money, including joint-running of the town fete, a murder mystery dinner, Gardener’s Question Time and Call My Bluff evening.

The hall will be funded by a number of sources. Kim Gutteridge from the Potton Hall for All charity comments:

“Now planning permission has been granted, the possibility of the hall receiving additional funds through match funding has opened up”.

She continues:

“Potton is a growing community and has over 300 new homes due to be built over the next five years, a community hub is needed now more than ever. The people of Potton are eagerly awaiting construction to finally get started as soon as funding is complete. For more than 70 years we’ve needed a venue large enough for local people to celebrate in, meet and get active. Now it’s finally going to happen”.

Nicole Porteri, Design Director and Project Lead, Woods Hardwick, comments:

“With its unique placement in a fast growing country community, the site posed a challenge for us to ensure Potton Hall for All provides not just a great community asset but an architectural gem. Designing a community hub presents us with a rare opportunity to design for all ages and to create a venue that allows a community to thrive and grow. We’re delighted to have won the planning permission to progress with the project and can’t wait for the next steps”.

Set in a location that will overlook the proposed community orchard, Potton Brook and Pegnut Wood, the hall combines a complementary landscaping plan and will be within walking distance of the town square via a new footpath link.

Having analysed the surrounding buildings and location, Woods Hardwick has been careful to source high quality, materials that reference traditional construction techniques.

Potton Hall for All will be a single storey building and has been designed to complement its surroundings with the use of natural materials including wood and subtle grey brickwork. The design aims to define and enhance external spaces, which include a South East facing terrace.

The North West facade will feature open latticework, which will be planted with indigenous climbing plants. The building’s exterior will have vertical timber cladding, mixed grey brickwork and grey aluminium window and door frames. The angled lower level roof will feature dark grey zinc.

Inside the hall, drama will be provided by soaring ceilings and an angled roof light that will flood the interior with natural light. For design consistency the interior will use many of the same materials as the exterior, including the grey bricks and sensitive use of timber. The inside has been arranged with the end-user in mind, the whole building is easily accessible and deliberately designed to allow for multipurpose use by the whole community.

Current provision nearby is often too small and has poor acoustics. The new hall has been designed by experts to ensure that it provides exemplary acoustic conditions for a multi-use community hall. Careful consideration has been given to building fabric sound insulation so that a broad range of events can occur in the hall without neighbours being disturbed.

The Hall for All will also provide a picturesque venue for wedding receptions and other social occasions as well as facilities suitable for conferences and business meetings.

Kim continues:

“Much work has been done to reach this stage by a dedicated group of local volunteers, enthusiastically supported by numerous local clubs and societies with whom we have jointly raised funds and the profile of the Hall for All. We are most grateful for the support of our ward Councillors and of Potton Town Council, who will own the land and lease it to Hall for All for nominal rent.

“There is still much work to be done and the Potton Hall for All charity is working hard to raise the capital funding for the building. Should any businesses want to be involved, the Trustees would love to hear from them”.