NEWS – Q&A
Q&A from Fernhurst News – December
2017 was a busy launch year for the Pavilion 2022 project, with press articles, surveys and expressions of support. In 2018 we will be getting down to the business of fundraising. Simon Vigar caught up with Trustee Bill Gourlay for a progress report on how its going.
SV: What has happened since the survey in the spring?
BG: We’ve been really busy over the course of the summer, with efforts being progressed over several different fronts. The new pavilion is needed because we’ve seen so much growth across the four sports clubs and so there have been a number of meetings with representatives from each of the governing bodies, in addition to Sport England. The conversations have been really positive as they’ve allowed us to share our current position with each of these bodies, understand what level of financial grant we might be able to receive from them, and also be clear on the expectations that they would have of Fernhurst’s sports clubs. Our fundraising group has also started to mobilise their efforts, with generous local donors, in order to start chipping away at our target.
OK, on the money, a lot of people think £1m is way over the top, especially in the current climate. How can you justify it and do you think you will actually raise it?
There is absolutely no question that £1m is a lot of money, particularly when considered in a domestic context. However, we’re constructing a community building, so a more realistic context is to consider this versus the £16m+ that a leisure centre would cost. We’ve compared the scale and cost to similar clubhouse builds elsewhere, which has confirmed that we are very much on the right track. We’ve got a solid core of dedicated volunteers who are taking it upon themselves to spend their time raising these funds, so that we can provide Fernhurst’s villagers with a set of fantastic sporting facilities over the coming decades. They’re not doing this for themselves but for the good of the entire community, so we hope that everyone will recognise this and try to support them in whatever way possible.
Have the plans changed at all?
A lot of time had already been spent with representatives of Fernhurst’s sports clubs, which is where the original plans came from. So on that basis there haven’t been any substantial changes to the plans. We were very clear that we wanted to build a pavilion that would meet the community’s sporting needs for the next 50 years, whilst also wanting to make sure that the new building was of a much more sympathetic design to the village houses around it than the existing pavilion. There may be a bit of fine tuning but fundamentally this is the layout we’re going to need if we’re to meet the requirements that each of the clubs have identified.
Where is the planning application in the system at the moment?
We want to make sure that Chichester District Council is supportive of our plans and, clearly, this initiative also brings significant benefit to them in terms of providing the local community with suitable sporting facilities. In order to do this, we submitted an initial pre-application advice request, which was based around our early plans and a broad overview of the sporting needs. The council came back with some comments around the design and needs so, whilst we’re clear on the justification for every element in the proposed building, we’ll need to be very transparent to ensure that everyone shares this insight and the excitement that having a facility like this should generate.
The drawing looks very big – why do you need two storeys?
Yes, that comes up a lot and, if we could meet the needs of the clubs and the regulations of the governing bodies without it, things would certainly be easier and cheaper. However, our reality is that we are trying to meet the specific needs of four different sports, numerous other renting parties, and over 800 local members without changing the footprint of the building. There are a lot of new rules around building regulations, accessibility for the disabled and child safeguarding considerations that we simply have to take into account. Given our position in a conservation area, within a National Park, we can’t change the footprint aside from a couple of feet towards the tennis courts, so we have to fit all of the required spaces into this limited area. However, we believe that this will be a much more sympathetic design in the context of the village green which, after all, is made up of two storey buildings, rather than long low structures.
Is it worth it?
The project to build a new pavilion has already taken up a vast amount of time and effort on behalf of our volunteers, and we’re only a year into a 5+ year initiative! The process of creating designs that work for everyone, gaining support from the local community, ensuring that we have planning permission from the local council, let alone raising £1m of funding can be extremely frustrating and time consuming. However, I’d challenge anyone to go down to the village green on a Saturday morning, then tell me that this isn’t worthwhile. In the very recent past all of Fernhurst’s sports clubs were in a very vulnerable place, and some came close to extinction, but now we have over 800 members across the clubs with a vibrant social life around it. On any given Saturday morning you’ll see around 100 children playing cricket or football, with the keep fit class taking place, a full set of matches on the tennis courts, and another 100+ parents taking advantage of “Donk’s Café” for a bacon roll and a coffee. That scenario has only been possible through the extraordinary vision of a number of dedicated villagers, and it has become obvious that the old pavilion is bursting at the seams, so it’s vital that we replace it with something suitable that will allow us to continue to make Fernhurst such a fantastic place to live.