Village Hall Rebuild Project


August 2020 update

Public Works Loan Board  (PWLB)

In early August, our Five Villages PWLB coordinator received confirmation that the loan applications from each of our parish councils had been successful after what felt like a fresh loan application. The previous loan activation period expired at the end of July.

The community is most grateful to the PWLB by providing their decision within our deadlines timetable and we extend our thanks to them.  The Project Team extends its thanks also to our parish councillors who played an important role in this involved exercise and not least our villagers for their support too.

This means now that the £50,000 loan offer is secure and can be drawn down when the funds are needed for the project which will be this year.

Five Villages Project Team

Late July 2020 Update

Tenders Received

We received tender bids back from 6 contractors on 23rd July 2020.  These offers have been reviewed, compared and assessed initially by the project team and since have been sent to our professionals for their own assessment, comment and final recommendations.

Following this assessment process, there will be face-to-face discussions with the remaining candidates to ensure their offers comply with our requirements and any provisions / exclusions are explained and agreed – or otherwise.

We are attempting to complete this process as quickly as possible now so as to be able to appoint a builder and start once The National Lottery have sanctioned our selection.

Public Works Loan Board

Our renewal application for the loans, to be taken out by the three parish councils in support of the building project, is currently with the Public Works Loan Board – in their approval process.  They were provided with much up-dated information to support the application.

This loan is an important element in our funding budget and we look forward to a swift decision so as not to avoid any further project delay.

Five Villages Project Team

July 2020 Update

The project team has been encouraged by the engagement of the new potential builders, most of whom have visited the site and all of whom have asked questions relating to various aspects of the technical build.

 With price offers returned by mid-July we’ll plan to start assessing bids immediately and will discuss the bids with our QS professionals for their views, thoughts and recommendations. Contract signing is a reality now, sooner than later.

 Since the last funding award in January, we learned in late June of our success in winning more funding from alandfill creditfunder which is of course a super boost to the project.

 So we have backing from all of our funders – either having received the funds already or have received fresh confirmation that the pledged funds are still available for our project. Our big two funders are The National Lottery (ca. £647k) and Sport England (ca £95k).

 The third biggest funding amount will come from the Public Works Loan Board – (PWLB) to whom our three parish councils applied last year for a loan. This loan will be financed from the increase in the parish councils’ precept which was the subject of a 2019 residents’ survey seeking approval of same. Approval was overwhelmingly given and as such our three parish councils are fully engaged in this project for the benefit of the community. 

 The PWLB approved the loan last year. However the result of the above events (value engineering exercises, slowing down of UK activity, the postponement of normal business activity, public and parish council proceedings not least the closing of our hall) was a hibernation of project progress. An extension to the timing of the PWLB agreed loan is currently being requested so as to re-align to our project timetable.

 Given that a loan has already been approved by the PWLB, we are hopeful that the parishes’ request for this vital extension is approved again. Without it and with no time left to re-start fundraising, the project would fail at the very point at which we are close to signing a contract and starting the build.

The Five Villages Project Team


June/July 2020 Update

Re-Cap

Progress on matching funds with the quoted prices of the preferred contractor, despite two value engineering exercises, stalled probably late April and into May. No progress on the proposed contract – as our contact was furloughed and communication very difficult as the world closed down. The decision was taken to cease proceedings with the preferred contractor and re-think our options.

Re-Set

Fresh meetings were held via the web with our professional team (architects, QS etc) as well as with our major funder The National Lottery (TNL) with the aim of agreeing a new track to follow in pursuit of our new hall.  The project team prepared fresh scenarios ready for these discussions. Both our professionals and the TNL were very supportive of our proposals. An open and honest discussion was held as to the best way forward during which the TNL offered to confirm their support to two of our funders who have made pledges to fund on the proviso that we raised sufficient funds to meet project costs.

The agreed scenario was to return to the contractor market and approach builders in our area with a view to encouraging more up-to-date prices. Given the overall situation in which the UK found itself we thought that we would be entering a different market dynamic compared to that of pre-March 2020.

We found that there is a desire amongst local builders to start work again not least to have the opportunity to release their workforce from furlough.

With the continued backing of and encouragement from the TNL and advice from our professionals a suite of project documents was collated and sent out for pricing.  We do remain under the requirement of competitive pricing as laid out by the TNL. We had hoped for prices to be returned without too much delay but even now the sluggishness of the responses of the supply chains (C-19) resulted in a requested extension to the closing date to mid-July.

So where are we now?

The project team has been encouraged by the engagement of the new potential builders, most of whom have visited the site and all of whom have asked questions relating to various aspects of the technical build.

With price offers returned by mid-July we’ll plan to start assessing bids immediately and will discuss the bids with our QS professionals for their views, thoughts and recommendations. Contract signing is a reality now, sooner than later.

Since the last funding award in January, we learned in late June of our success in winning more funding from a landfill credit funder which is of course a super boost to the project.

So we have backing from all of our funders – either having received the funds already or have received fresh confirmation that the pledged funds are still available for our project. Our big two funders are The National Lottery (ca. £647k) and Sport England (ca £95k).

The third biggest funding amount will come from the Public Works Loan Board – (PWLB) to whom our three parish councils applied last year for a loan. This loan will be financed from the increase in the parish councils’ precept which was the subject of a 2019 residents’ survey seeking approval of same. Approval was overwhelmingly given and as such our three parish councils are fully engaged in this project for the benefit of the community. 

The PWLB approved the loan last year. However the result of the above events (value engineering exercises, slowing down of UK activity, the postponement of normal business activity, public and parish council proceedings not least the closing of our hall) was a hibernation of project progress. An extension to the timing of the PWLB agreed loan is currently being requested so as to re-align to our project timetable.

Given that a loan has already been approved by the PWLB, we are hopeful that the parishes’ request for this vital extension is approved again. Without it and with no time left to re-start fundraising, the project would fail at the very point at which we are close to signing a contract and starting the build.

The Five Villages Project Team


Village Hall Rebuild Project

May/June 2020 Update

Remember January 2020?

You may recall earlier this year that our main funder, The National Lottery, agreed to increase its funding for our community project by another £155,000. Such a sum is obviously very, very welcome to any funding campaign but the project team were unable to reconcile the level of funds raised with the project costs our preferred contractor was proposing.

The decision had been made to shorten the main hall length in an attempt to balance funds raised with contractor prices. Drawings were modified and re-sent for fresh pricing with that new pricing due back in early April. 

A draft contract had been provided and our QS was guiding this process to enable the parties to possible contract signing and thus start on site in April.

However despite two rounds of value engineering exercises with the contractor to reduce materials costs and building size, the project was always attempting to chase down these costs in a climate of increasing uncertainty as a result of C-19. Implied cost savings never materialised. The hall trustees could not sanction a go-ahead under these conditions and it goes without saying that the TNL would not give the PTP (permission to proceed) in these circumstances either.

Our discussions with the proposed contractor became thus unfruitful and the project team took the decision in early May to end this relationship after consultation and with the agreement and support of The National Lottery.

Further web-based meetings with our professionals and the TNL guided the team to alternative solutions to re-start the project.  The team quickly agreed to look for local builders who would be both interested in and capable of quoting for our project.  This action started immediately and is underway.

Five Villages Project Team


Village Hall Rebuild Project

February 2020 Update

You might be aware that in late 2016 the Village Hall committee voted to engage in a project to replace our 1950 building with a new community hub. This was to be predominately financed by local and national funders as well as many local private and user group donations to the building fund.

As with such projects we have experienced some setbacks in the shape of some unforeseen elements not having been estimated and others that had been under-estimated.  We have been in on-going discussions since August 2019 with our professional partners to resolve these issues of balancing project costs with project funds raised. There have been some design changes and modifications to materials to be used as part of this value engineering exercise. Some elements have been temporarily removed from the project’s scope to help bridge the funding gap. These can be addressed later.

At the time of writing this gap is almost plugged following a very recent and significant second award by The National Lottery Communities Fund.  Now it remains for us to balance the funding figure with the builder’s cost figure before The National Lottery Communities Fund will allow us to move to the build phase.  We are working at this now and are hopeful of a successful conclusion.

HOW WILL THIS BUILDING PROGRAMME AFFECT YOUR VISITS TO THIS HALL?

The existing hall will remain OPEN for use throughout the building phase.                                           

It will NOT be demolished until the new Community Hub building is finished.

Building activity will be mostly Monday to Friday during working hours.

Current timings  from our builder (to be confirmed after contract signing) indicate an on-site start around May 2020 with completion of the new hub around Christmas 2020.     Based on this the existing hall will be demolished in early 2021 – but not before a final hall community event in honour of a building opened in 1950 with an anticipated life of 16-odd years!

Naturally the existing tennis courts / overspill car park will be used by the builders as a work area and for the storage of building materials as required. As such it will not be available to hall visitors thus limiting the number of car parking spaces on site.

We, together with the builders, will keep everyone informed about the programme so as to help mitigate any issues. Some lateral thinking will help reduce car journeys to the hall. Perhaps a car share group via WhatsApp?  A little co-operation amongst hall users could share and save travel costs?

QUESTIONS or QUERIES?

If your usual Village Hall contact is Judy Morgan then please talk to Judy about any issues you have.

Otherwise please contact email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

WE NEVER CLOSE!


Village Hall Rebuild Project

January 2020 Update

If you read the end of year project update published in the last Parish Magazine you will remember that our new application to The National Lottery Community Fund (formerly the BLF) for extra funding was planned for January. This has now been sent on our behalf by the Regional Lottery Team, based in Manchester, to their England Committee.  This committee convenes on 29th January and we expect to be informed of their decision soon thereafter.

Our January meeting with the Lottery team discussed finances, building cost and funding.

A major financing setback has been the withdrawal in December of a funding offer (£45k) because of the project delay caused by the required value-engineering process and subsequent modification of drawings. We discussed with the Lottery team tactical options for the application and, given the new funding setback, with some reluctance, it was decided to shorten the hall length by 3m.

Our value engineering exercise undertaken last autumn took certain costs out of the build. For instance, the first floor, the wall construction type and roof design were simplified, the required sewage system was re-specified, all external works (eg landscaping) were excluded.

Two local businesses to whom we extend our grateful thanks, PC Construction and Cheshire Waste have stepped up to support the project by taking on some of the external works.

A January meeting with our proposed builder resulted in the identification of more items for initial exclusion now but which can re-introduced at a later stage, financed by more fund-raising. Included in these cost savings was the shortening of the main hall.

Thus the current situation as at the time of printing is that we are awaiting the decision on the extra lottery funding application (and the value of any award), due early February. If positive, we will have a small shortfall which will require funding and, by the way, that the Lottery have confidence in our ability to raise.  Instead of waiting for March’s Parish Magazine, we will be in contact with residents by hand-delivered flyer with a view to raising shortfall funds.  If all goes to plan, a building contract will be signed in February and groundwork will start early April….and the fund-raising will continue!

Five Villages Project Team


Village Hall Rebuild Project

2019 Project Progress Review 

The turn of the year saw continued fund-raising efforts from national funders, hall users and private donors alike. Our funding target had been assessed at £814,000. Our three parish councils kindly agreed to support the project via the precept after their community survey.

CW&C granted planning permission in late 2018. A series of surveys were undertaken to confirm location of underground services, soil condition, its make-up and drainage. This transpired to be a longer than expected process because for example, certain data  had to be collected over a number of weeks of site readings.

The legal issues regarding land location and ownership were kindly completed to the satisfaction of the Lottery by solicitors Mackenzie Jones of Chester and St Asaph on a pro bono basis.  https://www.macjones.com/

With on-going user, internal and private donations continually adding to the fund total we received in early Summer a significant funding pledge from Viridor Credits of £50,000 to the project. Others funds have been awarded by  Cheshire LEADER Programme, The Williams Family Foundation, Cheshire Foundation Trust, The Earl of Chester Fund, Allchurches, Lord Leverhulme Trust,  Ursula Keyes Trust and Garfield Weston.

With all necessary building drawings completed by DK Architects, construction tender documents were prepared and sent to pre-qualified builders who returned their bids late July to our project QS, Markhams of Liverpool.  These bids sadly came in above our target figure.  Following various meetings, a value engineering exercise (VE) was instigated with all of our professionals (including the lowest bidder) with the aim of reducing costs in the design and removing unnecessary costs whilst looking to boost the project funds.

The VE exercise has indeed reduced cost within the building and at the time of writing other external aspects of the project (incl. water drainage, sewage processing) are under scrutiny. We have approached some local companies who have kindly offered to help us on given aspects of the project.  A such, a revised contractor project price should be available to us by mid-December 2019.

With regard to extra funding we approached our main funders again. Sport England upped their pledge by £20,000 to £95,000 as a show of support for our project. We have negotiated renewed (extended) funding deadlines with 2 other funders to help keep their support on track. The National Lottery Community Fund (TNL) previously known as the Big Lottery Fund have agreed to prepare an application on our behalf for extra funding which, if agreed in January 2020 should bring us very close to affording the new building as designed.

There are signs that CW&C planners will not require us to undergo another planning application subject to a planning condition or two. This is very helpful.

So a challenging 2019 on the project front with ‘unforeseens’ causing the necessary re-costing exercises; looking on the plus side the project continues to attract support from our major funders in particular as well as from local companies, hall users, the social committee, the parish councils and many, many individuals who have contributed to the project.

…. and 2020?

With the TNL extra funding application ready and sent before Christmas, we will have to await their England Committee funding decision due at the end of January 2020.  Let’s hope that the decision is positive and any award reduces the funding gap to a figure at which we can aim a final funding push!  From experience so far, there is also another cost around the corner which needs to be funded!

Enjoy a peaceful Christmas and Happy New Year!

BLF / Five Villages Project team


Village Hall Rebuild Project

November 2019 Update   

The Project Team has held several project meetings this month; with the BLF, our Quantity Surveyor, parish council chairs, our Ward councillor, the potential construction company and architects.  The project is currently estimated as being over budget but we are continuing to challenge our own specification and the contractor’s cost plan.

The overall objectives currently have been to:

1  take cost out of the current building design

2  challenge the contractor on their costs, especially the external and substructure works       

3  consolidate agreed changes and obtain a new price

4  explore additional funding

5  keep our stakeholders and communities informed

Additional External costs included the provision of equipment to manage water drainage and a powered sewage treatment plan. The necessary calculations were made using the full hall capacity of 140 people as the guide. The professionals were asked to re-think this given the actual pattern of usage.  An attenuation tank is now required, which collects both roof and surface water from the site, and is designed to release the collected rain water at a specified rate so as not to create flooding downstream from the brook running at the western end of the site.

Retaining walls are needed for two slopes on site if we build. These were unforeseen when we submitted our plans to the Lottery in October 2018.

Post-build site trees and plants planting were another such cost which we excluded from the current project costs thus keeping all available funds for the build itself. Post-build the plan will be to have a community action to cultivate the site with trees and bushes and thus meet the terms of one of the conditions attached to the planning permission.

As advised last month, there is an opportunity to apply to the BLF’s so-called England Committee for additional funding. The application to this committee, which is prepared by the BLF in Manchester (who hold regional funds) and the BLF’s Capital Programme Manager, will not now be sent for their November meeting. We are currently working with revised ‘estimates’ of the tender quotation. Time is needed to prepare new drawings and have the changes costed by the contractor. This exercise should give us an accurate figure for the build cost.

Armed with accurate costs based on new drawings we believe the regional BLF team will stand the best chance in convincing the England Committee to agree to more funding.

That meeting will be in January 2020 and all supportive information must be with the regional team by mid-December 2019 so they can finalise their application on our behalf.

BLF Project Team


Village Hall Rebuild Project

October 2019 Update  

As advised last month the planned meeting with a Big Lottery (BLF) representative and our project professionals took place in early September at the Hall.  We brought the BLF rep. up to date, namely that our QS was engaged with the lowest bidding contractor about how cost could be removed from the planned building design.  Potential options were discussed with him and our professional team.   The costs reductions of these options will be available for the next BLF / Professional Team meeting at the end of September. We should have more clarity by then.

Notwithstanding any potential project cost reductions, there is an opportunity to apply for extra BLF funding to boost our existing grant funds although this route is by no means assured. To this end we held a separate meeting with a local BLF representative responsible for the West Cheshire area. Essentially the application will be based on three project scenarios and the costs/effects of those scenarios on our project and its outcomes.

We have started preparation for this application for extra funds. The application will be sent on our behalf late October by our local BLF rep. to the BLF’s England’s Committee for adjudication in November 2019.

BLF Project Team


Village Hall Rebuild Project

September 2019 update

Tenders for the construction of the new village hub building were received by our project agent/quantity surveyors from four potential contractors in late July and were opened early August. All four quotations exceeded the £814k total budget calculated by our Quantity Surveyor last year. With the tender process completed, the Project Team is now into what is referred to as value engineering. We have raised the £814k estimated funding for our project.

The main reason for the increase in costs came from the Site Investigation (essentially a ground/slope survey) completed as part of the design process. It revealed professional concerns about the current drainage system (including surface water) and the ground conditions (water at relatively shallow depths). The banks, which slope to the front and rear of the property, will require supporting walls.

Although the existing drainage system has been adequate for the current hall, the project needs to comply with the Environmental Agency’s current requirements for managing surface water near a potential floodplain whilst coping with the increased footfall on the site when built.

This means that the major additional, unforeseen costs are not necessarily in the building itself but in the so-called preliminaries (ie site preparations before starting to building work), external works, retaining walls, drainage, the building substructure (floor/deeper foundations) and post-project landscape planting. These costs are, in some cases, twice those originally estimated by our Quantity Surveyor.

Our QS is currently talking to the builder who tendered the lowest quotation about their interpretation of  the tender document and to understand the differences between the Project Cost Plan (no. 3) and their tender price compared to the current design. A list of potential savings is being presented to the builder by our QS for discussion.

So where from here?  We are still in the holiday season and thus not in a position to confirm yet the outcome of this dialogue nor to discuss with other engaged professionals any possible alternatives relating to the substructure.

If you remember, our main two funders are the Big Lottery Fund and Sport England whom we have appraised of the current situation and our plans to address the issues. They have encouraged us to continue this exercise and have agreed to meet us at the village hall in early September to discuss options and agree a revised project plan with the aim of starting the construction work with the minimum of delay.

We expect, all things being equal, to have a much clearer picture by the time next month’s issue goes to print so watch this space.

You will recall the Precept Survey sent this year to all village households asking for approval or otherwise of the local parishes’ plan to contribute financially to the re-build programme. The 3 parish councils have now lodged their loan applications with the PWLB and we are pleased to report that they have all been approved.

Stephen Thackray

BLF Project Team


Village Hall Rebuild Project

July 2019 update 

Project progress

After a short delay the prepared tender documents were sent to our pre-qualified building contractors on 17th June. Completed tender proposal documents must be returned by 15th July 2019 after which starts the assessment process.  There will be much to examine, question  and understand about the tenders ’content and which best fits our goals at a viable cost.

This is another milestone on a path to a modern village hall.

Local Fundraising

The cricket club’s Italian Food n’ Footy Night was a super night – great food, great company and with a postprandial result for the footy viewers to cap off the evening. Our thanks to the Perrys, Sibsons and Jones’ who raised a European Cup- beating £760 for the building fund – with some GiftAid to follow! Molto Bene!!

Initially postponed due to illness, Saturday 29th June now sees a Ballet & Tea/Coffee/cake/bacon butty event at the hall for those waiting between ballet classes for their charges. If you are passing, pop in to support us. Starts 9 o’clock to 11 ‘clock.

We hosted a representative of a national funder in mid-June who came to site to understand better what our project is about, who uses the hall and who will benefit from the project. WE have asked them for significant support and now after a number of recent funding refusals, wait to see if this application will be successful.

You will recall the Precept Survey sent in March this year to all villages households asking for approval or otherwise of the local parishes’ plan to contribute financially to the re-build programme. The three parish councils have now lodged their loan applications with the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB). The board has come back with some supplementary comments which are being addressed by the Precept Team.

As this issue covers the months of July and August you can keep up to date on various aspects of the project by visiting our website, contacting the general committee or the project team directly.  There are some fund-raising events planned for which the September issue will be too late so please see our website ad watch the A boards for news.

Stephen Thackray

BLF Project Team


Village Hall Rebuild Project

April 2019 Update  

Lots of project work has been going-on of late and this is a little update for you.

+ we can add £75,000 granted to us in February by Sport England to our project pot

+ planning permission was granted late last year

+ tender documents are being prepared now for issue to builders next month

+ we continue to welcome generous private donations for the project pot

+ a number of hall activity providers have/are running fund-raising events for the pot

+ we are maximising all these donations by using gift aid to boost our pot

A number of fund-raising events have also been staged by the Social Committee notably the Murder Mystery play (did you go?) which raised over £800!  There’s a Yoga & Supper event run by Becky on 26th April at the hall. See the VH website for Becky’s details.

Our big thanks to all who have contributed their time, effort and a donation so far.

We need your support especially for this year’s Plant Sale. Plant forms are being delivered to homes from now so look out for them. The forms need to be returned by 1st May to the contact on the form closest to you. Plant collection at the VH, 19th May – 2 to 3pm.

Our three local parish councils are working together, providing great support to the project. Having received a very positive (90%+) public response in the recent precept survey the councils are committed to seeing this community asset becoming a reality for all.

You might not be aware that our project is one of three Community Matters projects at Waitrose in Chester. For the month of April you can deposit green tokens into our compartment after your purchase, even if it’s just a pint of milk! Waitrose will divide £1000 proportionately between the three projects based on the total of green tokens in each. So, you know what to do!

Until we receive the response to the tender process we don’t know the precise costs.

We still have funding applications outstanding awaiting adjudication. A few funders have come back to us for ‘project updates’ (ie how much is in your pot). We interpret that as being positive and (not yet!) a no. The fact that the BLF and Sport England have been willing to support our project with over £560,000 of grants is a big persuader for others to become associated with a successful project.

We should be a few more steps closer by the next up-date which will be sent out in May.

Stephen Thackray

BLF Project Team


Village Hall Rebuild Project

February 2019  Update

Key Points       

+             Our proposed Five Village Community Hub project was granted planning permission on 21st December 2018 by CWaC.

+             We received an award of £8,000 from AllChurches Trust in early January.

+             Our application to Sport England for a sizeable grant has been in their system for longer than expected. However the application has now had its Technical Review and has been presented to the Peer Review panel for adjudication. We would like to think that a final decision will be taken before the end of January.

+             The so-called legal address (ie ownership of site etc) has been completed and sent to the Big Lottery Fund  by the solicitors who kindly offered their services pro bono. The BLF has now received the paperwork it required from us.

+             A Site Investigation (SI), which is required to assess the ground’s make-up on our hall site, has been completed. All samples have been sent off for analysis with results expected by March time.

+             A services investigation, which traces underground services (pipes, cables etc), is about to start at the site.

Parish Councils

Before Christmas Ward Councillor Brian Crowe chaired an initial meeting at the Village Hall attended by councillors of the parish councils of Backford, Lea-by-Backford  and Mollington as well as members of the Hall Project team.  The objective of this meeting was to discuss how the parish councils could support the new Hub project.  Further meetings are scheduled for January. It’s likely that a small working committee will be set up to pursue options on behalf of the councils and the project team.

Fundraising Events

There is a busy schedule of fundraising events planned including a murder mystery play, an auction of promises, a history- and ghost-themed city tours provided by Corrine (French classes), Pop-Up nights.  For more info visit our website or contact a committee member.  Social media is worth checking too!

Stephen Thackray

BLF Team


Village Hall Rebuild Project

December 2018 Update

Building Design Plans

We hit a milestone in early October when the new building design plans were lodged at the planning offices at CWaC in Chester.  You can view details on CWAC’s (planning) website by entering our application number 18/03928/FUL.

An application takes about 12 weeks to wash through the planning system but like most who lodge such applications we’ll just have to wait for wheels to turn. Some last minute changes were made following the public Open Day consultation process last month.  We expect to have the planners’ decision around 9th January 2019.

Big Lottery Fund

October was a busy month on the project front. Our Business and Capital Delivery Plans (and our final architect drawings and project costings etc) were sent off electronically to the BLF by the deadline of 24th October – another milestone achieved.  We have been keeping in touch with the BLF during the preparation of these documents with questions and queries so that there will be no last minute surprises on either side. 

We hope to have the BLF’s final decision (to fund our project to the tune of £492k or not) by the end of November 2018. So if you tend to keep things crossed for good luck please feel free to do so – just like the Lottery logo!

Grant Funding – some successes

We hosted a visit from a potential funder recently who was interested enough to do so having read our application for funding.  The meeting went very well with the visitor pleased to see our hall and indeed a specific user there at the time of the visit! Colin and Andrew certainly felt that the gentleman would report back to his trustees in our favour. For the outcome we’ll have to wait until December. Perhaps more finger-crossing?

A national funder responded positively to our August 2018 application for funding. The offer of £20,000 is contingent on our being able to raise the project funding shortfall. This kind offer is valid for 24 months. Another local funding Trust decided to support our project with a cheque donation of £20,000 in November.

A further potential funder has asked for more information relating to another funding application lodged. This info has been returned to the funder and we now await a decision. Their board meets in early December with a decision announcement expected a fortnight after that.  

We would like to thank Canon Stephen Mansfield for sending us an excellent letter in support of our application for funding from Allchurches Trust. This, we hope, will prove to be decisive in the outcome.

Community Funding

Our project has started attract funding from our community, something the BLF were keen to see.

Some of you might have seen the big banner on the tennis court fencing at the hall – a reminder to all of the project’s funding needs.  Please help the project if you can.   There are two really simple ways of doing this:

  • MyDonate at BT; go to the village hall website and click on the link to make a donation and
  • Create commission for the hall when you shop online. This costs you nothing – yep absolutely nothing. All you have to do is to remember to click on org.uk (also via the link on the Village Hall website or get the app.) before navigating to you preferred retailer(s). Again, it costs you nothing to contribute to the community project fund this way.

Download the app for your mobile at          https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/

Stephen Thackray

for the BLF Project Team


Village Hall Rebuild Project

October 2018 Update

Building Design

Villagers came to the hall to discuss the proposed building design with members of the BLF Team at the Open Afternoon/evening on 14th September.   

Various issues were raised and discussed including car parking, storage, kitchen access, access to the stage, funding, what the BLF are looking for in a project, the extra funding required to complete the project.

It was a great opportunity for the airing of such issues which have been duly noted by the design team.

Grant Funding

Two more funding applications have been made this month whilst 2 funders have come back to us with specific questions about aspects of the project.

One potential funder wishes to visit us on site to understand more of our project drivers so we look forward to that.

Easyfundraising -  see the link on mbdvh.org.uk

“ JOHN LEWIS IS GIVING MONEY AWAY – JUST LIKE OVER 3000 UK COMPANIES !  “ but The Village Hall continues to miss out daily on valuable cost-free donations that could be made in favour of the Project Fund by villagers making online purchases.  We made just £7.80 last month. That’s a large glass of Chardonnay!

Please change this situation by starting your shopping via the Village Hall website and then on to more than 3000 sites.

It costs you nothing but makes a valuable contribution to our community project.

Stephen Thackray

for the BLF Project Team


Village Hall Rebuild Project

September 2018 Update

Building Design

The design of the proposed new hall is being finalised ready for a planning permission application to CWAC following an initial discussion with CWAC about the revised design. They have raised no specific issues about the proposed design so we should expect to receive planning permission without too much drama.

Villagers and other interested parties have the opportunity to look at the proposed building design and discuss it with members of the BLF Team at the Village Hall on Friday 14th September from 4pm at an Open Afternoon The plan and the opportunity to discuss it is available at the Pop-Up Pub following the Open Afternoon. 

Grant Funding

As at the end of August we now have seven applications being considered with 3 more

targeted for application when their funding timing is better suited to our project timing.

One, for example, requires planning permission before the application is made.

Easyfundraising -  see this on mbdvh.org.uk

In the last issue there were 16 supporters who had raised £524 at no cost to themselves

just by accessing their shopping sites via our website and the easyfundraising link there. 

As at 24th August the hall has 24 supporters who have raised £687.

Download the app for your mobile at    https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/

Stephen Thackray

for the BLF Project Team


Village Hall Rebuild Project

July 2018 Update

Building Design

The BLF Team has held meetings with our project architects to discuss those issues about hall design and its features highlighted by respondents in questionnaires. We expect to receive an initial layout design which hopefully will incorporate much of what is desirable by mid-July.

Grant Funding

At the time of printing we will have applied to seven national grant funders to contribute to our current funding shortfall. Two have unfortunately rejected our application demonstrating what a competitive market we currently inhabit. 

We have however four more ‘nationals’ in our sights.

Fundraising

We are continuing our fund-raising work closer to home targetting local businesses and other contacts. 

We hope to stage an auction of promises later in the year.  One early offer is from a Chester hairdresser for a ‘cut ‘n colour’ session based on the winner being a new client. There will be many more such ‘promise’ examples.

This helps us and the local businesses. Perhaps you could offer something?

John Lewis / Amazon / Boots / Currys / Sky / M&S / Boden / Dyson / Thomas Cook

Do you buy stuff from these and the other 3200-odd easyfundraising companies?

Last month we had 15 supporters. We now have 16.  You know who you are ‘D’ so many thanks for signing up. The total stands at £524.

So, may we send out a challenge between now and September’s Parish Magazine??

Let’s see how many more of you will follow ‘D’, sign up and increase that total. 

You might be thinking about a new sofa (P&D??). 1% of that would do nicely please!

For the young at heart there is an app for your mobile making this easier for you.

Download it at  https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/

Pro Bono Work

We are close to agreeing with local solicitors a schedule of project-related pro bono professional work which will help us enormously. More to follow.

Stephen Thackray

for the BLF Project Team


Village Hall Rebuild Project 

May 2018 update

Quick resume - May 2018

+          We have a conditional offer from the BLF for £492k

+          This award does not cover the total foreseen cost of the project so we need to fundraise

+          The Team is targetting both Grant funders & Fundraising activities to make up the shortfall

+          Bid Stage Three (of three) is currently being prepared

+          Architects are being briefed about the design based on what the community said it wanted

+          We have consulted both the community and those who run sessions at the hall

+          The Stage Three Bid is due back at the BLF by mid October 2018

+          If successful we would hope the building programme would start by February 2019

+          Completion would be before the end of 2019

Our Big Issue

The BLF strongly advised us not to apply for more than £500k, advice which we took. The VH committee has put aside funds for this project and has planned fund-raising events to boost funds, such as the Summer Ball at the Hall evening on 14th July. We need funds to make this project happen as foreseen and to this end, we have a Fundraising Champion who is preparing a campaign now. 

You could really help this project by spreading the word about our fund-raising campaign to your own contacts, private and commercial to help us reach as many people as possible in the relatively short time available to us.

Ways to consider helping the community:

+          pro bono opportunities for professional services

+          making a personal donation or from a trust

+          register on the Village Hall website for easyfundraising  - an cost-free way of raising money when you buy stuff on line. Did you know that only 15 people have registered to help the Village Hall.  Our cause name is Mollington Backford Village Hall

+          donate an item we can auction at the Summer Ball

If you have a question or would like to know more please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

More next month

BLF Project Team


Village Hall Rebuild Project

April 2018 Update

You may know that in March 2017 the Village Hall committee applied to the Big Lottery Fund

(BLF) for funding to replace the existing main hall with a new, modern facility to meet the needs of the community. The Stage One application was successful. After several months’ preparation, the Stage Two application was sent to the BLF just before Christmas 2017.

Initial plans

It is no surprise that the Village Hall Committee (VHC), users and communities have been working for years to replace the old main hall, which was originally a Horsa Hut.  Planning consent was obtained to knock it down, connecting the rest of the facilities (toilets, kitchen, committee and garden room) via a connecting corridor to a newly built hall.  This scheme can be found on the village hall notice board.

Estimated costs were approximately £800k. We presented our case to HMRC and although we cited other zero-rated projects they concluded our proposed building could not be exempt from VAT. This disappointingly resulted in our costs escalating by 20%.

The Committee targetted the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) to obtain grant funding to complete the project.  The Village Hall (VH) met the eligibility criteria and we proceeded along a lengthy three-stage application process beginning in October 2016.  We were successful at Stage 1 and this was followed up with an inaugural public meeting mid 2017 and a follow-up meeting at the hall with the BLF.  They concluded that, given the VAT situation together with significant disruption to existing users, loss of revenue and the complex building project proposed, our project was unattractive. We were unlikely to obtain the full costs from the BLF anyway so we would need to find other funding partners and increase our own local fund-raising.

Success

The BLF team therefore went back to the drawing board and proceeded to Stage 2 with a zero-rated new build proposal, located on the disused tennis court area. We applied for a grant of approximately £500k. The BLF’s response was a conditional offer of funding subject to successfully completing Stage 3 Terms of Reference (ToR).

These ToR require us to submit a Business Plan and Capital Build Programme. We will be working closely with our preferred professional partners who were successful in our own detailed tender process towards the end of last year. This collaboration will produce a new building design, detailed costs and a new planning application.

So what’s next?

The BLF Team has six months to prepare, complete and submit Stage 3 application.

The BLF will then assess the plan and, all being well, respond within 4 months (in accordance with their guidance document).

Assuming that we will be successful, the VHC have to accept the offer within 4 weeks.

If accepted, the BLF Team will then have six months to start the building work which is unlikely to happen in 2018. Additional funding sources need to be explored to coincide with the BLF programme.

Currently although the main hall is planned to be much larger, the overall footprint will be smaller. This however will provide an excellent investment for the community and a wonderful opportunity for future development to meet as yet unseen needs.

The future vision and you

During this Stage 3 process, there will be an on-going need for all concerned – villagers, users, activity leaders, groups and institutions - to contribute in thought and deed to the main project outcomes and to accompany each other along the road to the successful conclusion of this community project.

In Stage 1 and 2 we identified four main project outcomes which resonated with the BLF:

  • Youth and Families engage in activities together & improve skills, wellbeing & cohesion
  • Increase familiarity and address isolation concerns of the elderly
  • Significantly increase the utilisation of (new VH) space
  • Improve the integration of the care homes and Hospice into our community

The committee is committed to facilitating the realisation of these outcomes drawing on local goodwill and the expressed desire to volunteer (as identified by respondents in our January 2017 questionnaire). There is a job, activity or role for each one of us, starting with the need to contribute to the discussion about our vision.

Colin Davies

BLF Team Leader

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To join in this project please, in the first instance, email me.