The Hall is in need of major refurbishment and this seem one of the reasons behind the council’s initial proposal to demolish Westgate Hall. The last couple of months we have focussed our efforts on gaining a better understanding of the condition of the building, the works required, the timing and, of course, the costs.

We are extremely lucky to have, among our volunteers, Tim Ellis (a local Conservation architect, currently working on the Westgate Towers), and Paul Mallion, a chartered surveyor from Conker Conservation. They have carried out a detailed inspection of the building and come back to us with a schedule of works for the building. Their conclusions are that, while it is a very solidly built building with the potential to last a long time, the cover of the roof on the main Hall needs to be replaced urgently.  This is also the case for the valley between the two buildings, and the flat roof at the back of the ancillary building (on top of the kitchen and storage areas). Also, some of the guttering is missing or damaged, and there are some damp and drainage issues needing to be addressed.

As it happens, there was an opportunity to apply for funding from Viridor Credits. Facing a deadline on the 16th of November, Tim and Paul somehow managed to prepare a detailed specification of the works required and send it to local building firms.  In a matter of days, they had 5 full quotations, just in time for us to submit a capital funding bid to Viridor.

Another thing Tim and Paul uncovered: their inspection of the roof cavities revealed no roof insulation in the building. No wonder the building has the lowest possible energy certificate (a G!) and the current energy bill is over £30,000 a year! As part of their specification for a refurbished roof they propose using a high performance wood fibre insulation.  As well as being a sustainable material it follows the voluntary Passivhaus insulation code from Germany which goes considerably beyond current UK building regulations standard. This wood fibre material also has very good sound insulation properties.

We are in fact in a chicken and egg situation. We are not strictly eligible for any funding for capital works because we do not yet have tenure of the Hall. Quite reasonably the council wants us to prove that we can raise funding before allowing us to take over Hall and run it for the community. In an attempt to break this deadlock, we have made the case to Viridor for a “conditional” or “ring-fenced” award that could become effective on obtaining tenure of the Hall.

In the meantime we are stepping up our fundraising campaign, with SAVE WESTGATE HALL shopping bags (kindly sponsored by local estate agents Godwin Curtis), Westgate Hall Christmas cards designed by one of our volunteer artists, Liz Findlay, and of course, some fantastic events, the first of which is the Grand Christmas Fayre on the 5th of December, join us if you can!