NORTH DORSET DISTRICT COUNCIL

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					Notes of the Meeting of the Gillingham Community Facilities Project Board, held on
Monday, 6 September 2004 at The Town Hall, Gillingham, 2pm – 5.00pm


Present:      North Dorset District Council
              Cllr J M Roake (Chairman)
              Cllr D Milsted
              Cllr J Tory
              Cllr M Jeffery
              Cllr P Webb

              Gillingham Town Council
              Cllr Anne Beckley
              Cllr Su Hunt
              Cllr I Stewart

              Three Rivers Partnership
              M Hebditch
              G Pogson
              D Webb

              By Invitation
              Evelyn Thurlby – Natural Living Centre Project Team Leader
              J Radford – Gillingham Football Club
              N Painter – Gillingham Cricket Club

              NDDC Officers
              J Rees – General Manager, Policy
              T Hurley– Policy Manager (Culture and Sustainability)
              G Smith – Planning Policy Manager
              H Melrose – Democratic Services (Committees)

1.   Apologies: Cllr C Dann.

2.   Notes Of Last Meeting

     Notes of 26 July were accepted

3.    Natural Living Centre

     The Board received a verbal presentation from Evelyn Thurlby, Project Leader for the
     Natural Living Centre. She explained the NLC concept and the means of realising it: -
      The Rural Renewal Company, a social enterprise business**, was seeking a site in
        the South West to realise its Eco-Village ambition.
      A number of sites had been considered and Gillingham had not been among the first
        few but, having visited and investigated the possibilities, it would actually be an
        excellent site; the town had a lot going for it.
      The Eco-Village concept had been devised as a means of addressing the challenges
        facing rural communities, particularly sustainability, providing employment
        opportunities, visitor facilities and the eco-village.
      Items which could be included (on a pick & mix basis) were:-


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    -     Visitor Centre – to provide learning opportunities rather than the traditional
          „museum‟ concept; people would be able to come to explore the concept of
          sustainability

    -     Eco-hotel

    -     Natural health centre (with or without a GP practice)

    -     Work spaces

    -     Community facilities

    -     Market garden

    -     Amenity land

    -     Woodland

    -     Sustainable transport

    -     “Centre for creative ageing”

**Social Enterprise (in this case the Rural Regeneration Company) was different from
both speculative development and not-for-profit businesses. It was backed by ethical
companies and financiers and “business angels” who took a more patient approach to
obtaining a return on their investment. Some elements of the enterprise were not-for-
profit, for instance the sustainable transport.

       Sites at Hardings Lane and Park Farm had been identified as possibilities. The
        access issues at Hardings Lane were difficult, although it was acknowledged that it
        was closer to the Town Centre. Park Farm‟s vicinity to the Royal Forest was also a
        benefit. However, those sites were not exclusive – for instance Chantry Fields was
        a possibility but land ownership could cause problems there. It was early stages and
        nothing would be ruled in or out at this stage.

       There was a joint objective between RRC/NLC and GCFPB in terms of the
        community/leisure facilities. NLC was aware that there had been intensive
        consultation in the recent past, and that the current GCFPB was developing a
        business plan. It was appropriate to test whether the two bodies could find „a fit‟.
        The proposed scoping study sought to review the options, test the fit and obtain
        initial estimates.

Ms Thurlby answered questions from Board members. The following emerged: -

       Gillingham was the only site under serious consideration at this stage
       50 – 100 dwelling units would be required to generate the funding for the project
       Hardings Lane, and the access issues, could be reconsidered if it was the Board‟s
        favourite.
       In terms of input from NDDC, RRC/NLC would be looking for assistance with access
        to past reports on the town, consultations on transport, economic regeneration etc.
        Dorset County Council would also be involved.


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        The scoping study would take approximately 4 months to complete. An indicative
         cost was £23500 but the wealth of information already available might reduce that
         considerably. RRC/NLC was confident it could raise the funds for the study.
        The time period between completion of the study and submission of a planning
         application was estimated at eighteen months.
        The result of that study would determine whether work would continue, or whether
         there were insurmountable problems.
        The concept was single campus or “village”, not spread throughout the town.
        NLC would not pursue a project if the local community did not support it.
        NLC would seek to work with existing groups but would still be keen to pursue a
         Gillingham option should GCFPB not wish to be involved.

     The Board thanked Ms Thurby for her interesting presentation; she had given members
     food for thought and Tony would be back in touch with her.

         Discussion

       Fascinating proposition but requires care and caution.
       Potentially advantageous and should not be ignored.
       There were good reasons to stay in touch with RRC, whilst remaining apart from
        their processes at this stage.
      TH to respond to RRC stating
       - the proposal is very interesting
       - Board would like to see RRC/NLC Business Plan
       - not prepared to commit money at this stage but happy to hand over all information
           acquired during previous studies (subject to the author retaining Intellectual
           Property rights on any material supplied)


4.       FUNDING OPTIONS FOR COMMUNITY CENTRES

     Lois Rose, Dorset Community Association specialist in funding sources for community
     buildings gave the Board the following information: -

        Village Halls tended to cost in the order of £425 – 450000; Town facilities would cost
         between £750000 and £1million.
        The National Lottery had been a good funding source early in its operation but funds
         had dried up since 2001.
        There would be a new lottery fund – The Big Lottery – an amalgamation of the
         Community Fund and the New Opportunities Fund A consultation period on it would
         end on 30 September and applications would be invited from 2005.
        There were no central government funds for community facilities
        Dorset Community Action received funding from the County and some Districts to
         assist in the provision of village halls etc but this was only sufficient for one project
         per year, at the most.
        Section 106 monies sometimes funded community halls
        Landfill Tax Credit was another source but was diminishing
        There might be appropriate charitable trusts
        DCA would accept bids for funds for feasibility studies, consultants‟ fees,
         architectural audits etc. Grants of up to 50% were available but the total sum
         available was only £6500 per annum.

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        Whatever was envisaged and however it was eventually funded it was essential that
         there was a feeling of community ownership

5.       GILLINGHAM CRICKET AND FOOTBALL CLUBS

     John Radford Gillingham Football Club
      Currently play on Hardings Lane ( leased land) and at Kington Magna (FC owned
        site)
      Has not been possible to obtain long lease but have verbal agreement with
        landowner to allow work on clubhouse, erection of lights, provision of concrete
        hardstandings. Work necessary to allow the senior team to remain in its current
        division. Have to provide covered stand, hardstanding all around pitch and disabled
        facilities by end of 2006/07 season.
      Club is very successful – runs 17 teams, 12 youth and 5 senior.
      Club resigned to losing Hardings Lane by 2011 but would prefer to stay.
      No plans yet for post-2011 but are anxious to work co-operatively to obtain good site
        and facilities
      Need a 20 –25 year lease to obtain grants,

     Norman Painter, Gillingham Cricket Club
      Gillingham Cricket Club is recreational rather than competitive and is struggling due
        to lack of facilities – players are leaving for Warminster, Shaftesbury etc.
      The club only has 12 month leases on its land at the Recreation field, so cannot
        obtain grants for improvements
      The land is so clay that it is impossible to create a natural wicket and the club plays
        on artificial – this is unpopular.
      There are currently just 2 Sunday teams and one (successful) evening team – the
        Saturday team folded last season.
      Need to get accredited with EWCB but that is unlikely with the current situation.
      Looking at alternatives – near leisure centre (but still clay soil), field near North
        Dorset Rugby Club (share facilities with rugby club) or long lease on site elsewhere
        (not yet identified)

     Both representatives thanked for their input and the information noted for the future.
     Brief discussion over viability of range of outdoor sport (football, rugby, cricket, hockey
     etc) on integrated site near current NDRFC.

6.       BUSINESS PLAN SUB GROUP

        IS circulated a draft of the Business Plan and invited comments. The introduction
         had been drafted in conjunction with 3 Rivers Partnership. IS had produced a CD
         with all the supporting documents and handed it to TH.
        The draft was a framework, to graft additions and which „fitted‟ the various
         application forms for funding.
        IS had included a 500 seat theatre in the BP. He had initially thought it impossible
         but now felt that it could work.
        IS suggested that the inclusion of serviced offices could provide a useful revenue
         stream.
        TH circulated a „scoping document‟ for the leisure side of the project for discussion
         at the next meeting.
        Gill Smith had held meetings with owners of land at Chantry Fields, Park Farm and
         Hardings Lane. All were keen but were looking for the advantage of residential
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        permission. The new Structure Plan does not foresee any major release of land for
        residential development outside current settlement boundaries.

     ACTION: ALL to respond to IS on his draft.

     IS now working 4 days/week and finding additional work on the project difficult.
     Group agreed that are nearing the point where specialist assistance is required.

     ACTION: (For next meeting) Look at what expertise required and when in order to take
     forward the Business Plan



7.     PRESS RELEASE.

        It was agreed that on this occasion there was no need for a press release.

       Open Line

       ACTION: TH to write an article for the NDDC newspaper, “Open Line”


Dates For Future Meetings:


     4th October
     1st November
     13 December

All meetings to start at 2.00pm and held at Gillingham Town Council offices.

ACTION: IS to book room




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