I was once taken on a tour of the College’s Grade 1 listed buildings. Inside there were (and presumably still are) four or five large meeting rooms (including an old hall with a gallery), a pretty courtyard, an upstairs with several smaller rooms, a kitchen (smallish from memory), and a rather grand staircase.
It is very tempting to see this as a village space. What better way to enhance community spirit than by occupying such grand, ornate buildings? With all our meetings taking place in the same place, we’d bump into each other and such bumping would be a good thing, creating connections and resulting in great progress. We may even sing or sleep together. Just look what happens in the Co-op…
But there is another side to this. We already have a large number of meeting rooms in the village (as befits a community with over 60/80/100 clubs and societies). These are the ones that spring to mind:
- the large village hall (currently 80-100% booked)
- the small village hall (currently 80-100% booked)
- the derelict football pavilion (used for storage but a site that could be redeveloped)
- the large meeting room in the Methodist’s Hall (50% booked)
- the upstairs meeting room in the Methodist’s Hall (30% booked)
- the Methodist’s Chapel (used occasionally)
- the library (used by mother and baby group and for a hearing aid clinic – sometimes at the same time with interesting consequences)
- the music room at Wye Primary (used by Kent Adult Education on Tuesday evenings for Keep Fit and the Wye Historical Society ten times a year) LadyJoannalettingspolicy
- the meeting room at the doctor’s surgery (used by the Patient Participation Group but not I think available for general hire)
- the church (used for large village meetings)
- the tower room in the church (used for choir)
- another tower room in the church (used for Sunday school?? I’m guessing here.)
- Luckley House (used until recently by Mike’s Monday Club)
- Spring Grove hall (has been used for slimming club)
- Rooms at Wye School (used by cubs)
- Wolfson Hall (owned by Imperial and rented out occasionally)
- Rooms and large conference hall at Withersdane (currently unused/ unclear as to what will happen with new tenant)
So do we really need a village centre in the Grade 1 buildings? Would we need to form yet more village groups to occupy them? What does everyone have in mind? Tiddlywinks? Snorers Anonymous? Is there anything else we haven’t got covered? And, if we were to have a village centre, what would happen to all the other buildings around the village which have relied on bookings from the various groups for their income?
I’m not sure we should even consider this for the time being – until discussions about house-building have concluded, and until such time as we have worked out what we want to happen with regard to existing facilities. The knock-on effects would be severe and certainly need proper professional evaluation.
I suspect that Imperial College see the Grade 1 listed buildings as a maintenance headache and difficult to shift. We should be very wary about taking them on.