We have summarised below some of the other more frequently asked questions to which we have responded over the last few months.
That is what we have asked the architect to design
The choice was available in the 2019 public consultation. 76% of respondents agreed that the new health centre should be an integral to the community centre.
A resolution was passed in July 2020 to continue with a combined hall and medical centre as that is what the majority of residents wanted.
It is a legitimate effort by the PC to mitigate the small loss of the brownfield land on Court Meadow by developing a wild area on what was a derelict piece of land. It has been the desire of the PC over a number of years to develop this area and is extremely grateful for the efforts of volunteers who have worked hard to create a fantastic nature trail which has already been used by local groups.
The question implied the value of the land was £200k. 25% of the income after 25 years is a bad deal.
The medical centre will take up only 350sqm. The PC will receive an income on that from year 25 onwards and there will be rent reviews providing an assured value of income and we get a new medical centre. The projections have been based on current patient ratios and growth has been factored in by the CCG over for the next few years. The PC has been advised by surveyors that 350m2 of land on Court Meadow with the strict covenants that go with it mean that the land has no real commercial value.
This is what was looked into with a feasibility study but there is too much risk for a small PC to take on. For example the Dr’s could default and the PC would be left paying the loan with no income.
With the current agreement the contract is between WDC and the GP’s who are reimbursed by the NHS and with no financial risk to the PC.
The feasibility study in 2018 identified that there is a need for a new GP surgery since the exiting one no longer meets all the latest NHS requirements. Moreover the existing lease at Woodhill was due to terminate, although it is being extended on an annual roll-over basis.
The GPs have carried out an exhaustive study of possible locations for a new surgery within the Mayfield area. It transpires that the only viable location has been identified as being on Court Meadow as an integral part of the new community centre
The original plan was for the PC to fund the health centre given that the rent from the GPs/CCG would cover the additional loan costs which would amount to approaching £1.5M. However detailed analysis of the issues and risks indicated that there would be a period during the construction phase when the loan prepayments would have to be made but without any income; In addition there are risks related early termination of the lease, changed NHS strategy regarding provision of GP services etc.
It was decided in 2019 that for the PC to provide the health centre was just a bridge too far recognising that it is the local ratepayers who have to bear the risks should anything go wrong.
One might think so but in practice all WDC wish to do is achieve a reasonable rate of return for their infrastructure fund which is used to fund infrastructure projects throughout Wealden for the benefit of all Mayfield residents.
WDC is not permitted to make a profit, although surpluses are permissible. In practice all WDC is trying to do is achieve an interest rate (return on its invested money) which is equivalent to what they might expect if invested in the normal way.
In theory the PC could have done so but the risks were deemed to be too great (see also 3 above)
The feasibility study in 2018 addressed the needs of 40+ clubs and societies as well as other potential users as to their needs for the future. For those that need a hall the hall size of 23m x 10m x 6.1m meets all their needs. Other requirements were for larger office for MAYFACS and a community hub where visitors can relax and admire the views over Court Meadow. Meeting rooms are also in short supply in the village and rooms which can double as changing rooms for theatrical performances are planned.
It is not the intention to have a commercial café in the new centre although it may well be that users of the community hub might wish to avail themselves of a tea or coffee as indeed they can now in the existing hall kitchen.
The intention if at all possible is to locate the new centre further down the slope so that the existing hall can be demolished at the last possible moment. However it should be noted that the existing hall is probably in the prime location for a building given that it is on flat land and that building on a slope increases build costs by as much as 20%. It is for the architect to take all these factors into account and present options.
It is not the intention to reduce the amount of grass land used for recreational purposes in Court Meadow. Villagers will accept that the location of the existing hall, band hut, old players hut base and the main and overflow car parks already exist and might be described as being on brown field land. As such it is not intended to build beyond the existing tarmac footpath which goes from the main car park down o the skateboard park.
The new car park and indeed the whole brownfield area will be landscaped with new trees planted together with garden areas which will make the whole area far more attractive than at present. Not all the existing brownfield area will be utilised for buildings.
We had hoped that there might be a separate entrance and exit thereby creating a one way traffic flow. Unfortunately discussions with planners suggest that having an exit in the band hut area is unlikely to be acceptable due to the removal of too many trees, because of the need to have a very wide splay for driver visibility purposes and discussions with BT about using their forecourt have not met with any agreement either. On top of all this it would be exceedingly expensive to cut away any part of the embankment alongside the Tunbridge Wells Road.
Unfortunately the stringent requirements of the band are such that provision for them cannot be made in the new centre and hence they still need their own premises.
A few years ago it might have been possible to raise funds from the Lottery etc but this is no longer possible, Commercial loans could not be used due to the uncertain revenues from renting out the hall.
The only sure way of raising funds was to take out a government backed loan with very low interest rates and for the repayments to be repaid via an increase in the rates/precept.
It may not be common knowledge but the free services of many local villagers have been used already and we are much indebted to them. Services have included eminent architects, planning consultants, surveyors, accountants/finance experts, to name but a few. If there are any trades people who might like to be included in a list of tradespeople for sharing with the eventual construction contractor then please let the Clerk to the council know.
It is unfortunate, but by no means unusual, for the preliminary activities to take longer than the actual build phase, and this project is no different. Villages can therefore be forgiven for not remembering the outcome of the public consultation, the results of which are given here:
Given that the village is effectively funding the project the parish council thought it important that the public give their preference for one of three design options. This exercise was scheduled for summer 2021 and it is anticipated that it will not be too long before the design can be shared with the village.
Many people will be aware of the issues relating to Court Meadow and the registration of the meadow as a King George V playing field in 1938. The responsibility for overseeing KGV playing fields is now undertaken by an organisation called Fields in Trust.
Unfortunately it transpires that the original registration of Court Meadow was not formally legally registered. Nonetheless the parish council and the village would never wish the current grass areas of Court Meadow to be used for anything other than recreational purposes.
As a consequence the parish council will, on completion of the project, file a Deed of Dedication with the Fields in Trust using the latest registration processes to ensure that the grassland can never be used for anything other than recreational purposes in perpetuity, thereby taking away the current legal ambiguity. Moreover the parish council is to include a further c. 2 acres comprising Jubilee Wood in Rotherfield Lane in a second Deed
Effectively the project has already started with the feasibility study in 2018, but the key recent event was the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between the parish council and WDC in February 2021, which kickstarted the process with the appointment of an architect, surveyor and various consultants.
The precise completion date will be known until a build contract has been placed but we expect completion and occupation of the new centre to occur in 2023.
The community centre is estimated to cost c.£2.35M excluding fixtures and fittings and contingency. However, under the agreement with WDC they will pay 50% of the community centre project costs.
There will be a need to raise a further £200k to cover the costs of fixtures and fittings which will be raised via grants and donations.
Unfortunately it is not legally possible to split the precept between Mayfield and Five Ashes. As a consequence Five Ashes residents are obliged to contribute to the costs, however, although Five Ashes does have its own hall many Five Ashes residents do in fact use the Mayfield hall and Mayfield GPs services so there is some benefit from the project.
It is not uncommon for there to be delays with building projects and this one is no different. There are many reasons for the delays this far but, because Wealden District Council is the project and contract manager we have to work at their pace. One example is the delayed appointment of a Quantity Surveyor the contractual arrangements for which were longer than anticipated despite the use of an existing framework agreement.
The architect’s original designs were more expensive than anticipated and additional lower cost designs have been generated. Unfortunately the project timing is such that the building sector is experiencing significantly increased costs due to a combination of Brexit and Covid.
A Quantity Surveyor has now been appointed and costings have been produced which will influence the precise designs to be adopted.
The MoA is a formal agreement to proceed with the project and will be followed by a legal binding Development Agreement with WDC which goes into considerable detail about the relationship between the parties and that will be in place well before the building contract is in place which is when large sums of money will be spent. There will also be a legal lease with WDC for the health centre and a further sub-lease between WDC and the GPs.
The parish council will grant a 99 year legally binding lease to Wealden for the ground on which the Health Centre is to be built. WDC will then grant a sub-lease which is a lease between WDC and the GPs, albeit with the approval of the CCG, which will be for 25 years.
The public consultation in 2019/20 indicated that it would be preferable if the current hall did not need to be demolished until the new centre has been built. In principle it would be cheaper to build the new centre on the same footprint as the existing hall since it is always more expensive to build on a slope. Given the recent significant increase in building costs the option of building on the same footprint as the existing hall is having to be seriously considered, whilst recognising the inconvenience to users that this would cause.
In actuality the agreement for 25 years will be between WDC and the GPs but the CCG will have to underwrite the 25 year commitment. WDC as the lessor will also require confidence of this support from the CCG and will have a side letter to provide this confidence.
WDC will have an Agreement to Lease signed with the GPs before the building contract is placed. The final lease will be signed towards the end of the building contract.
WDC has raised this issue with the CCG, mindful that there are changes in the way GP practices are likely to be organised and funded in the future. However WDC, who is responsible for the Health Centre part of the project, has obtained sufficient satisfaction on this point. The GPs have submitted a business plan to the CCG based on the number of patients they currently have together with increases forecast over the next 25 years and we are very lucky that the CCG has agreed to a lease of 25 years for such a relatively small surgery.
With regard to the community centre there are no plans for a commercial café.
Likewise in the health centre there is not enough space to provide additional therapists.
The idea behind the community hub is to help with the mental well-being of the community by having a space where local charities, groups and individuals can meet, at no charge, in a relaxed and easily accessible environment.
The main hall will continue to used as now by the local clubs and societies. It will also be hired out as now for fairs, group meetings, yoga etc. The community hub will provide a free space for people to meet and have a chat with friends etc - something that MAYFACS has been keen to do. There will also be two meeting rooms and an office for MAYFACS.
The main hall will be the same size as the existing hall (taking account of the stage). However in the new hall there will not be a permanent stage but a demountable stage which can be erected anywhere within the hall, thereby providing much more flexibility of usage. In addition there will be meeting rooms, offices and the community hub, resulting in a total floor area of c. 700m2.
The land which will be occupied by the new centre is owned by the parish council.
The parish council will own the community centre building and WDC will be granted a lease to build the Health Centre for the duration of the lease. The lease will include covenants to ensure that the building cannot be sold and must be used for healthcare purposes. If WDC wish to terminate the lease at any time before the term of the lease ownership of the Health Centre reverts to the parish council at no cost to the council.
The Health Centre is 350m2 and is approximately half the size of the community centre (700m2).