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Plans revealed for new village community hub

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An artist's impression of East Boldre Community Hub showing the proposed community shop viewed from the car park
An artist's impression of East Boldre Community Hub showing the proposed community shop viewed from the car park

PLANS have been submitted to create a thriving community hub in East Boldre, offering a new function room, shop and upgraded theatre.

Under an ambitious renovation proposal lodged with the national park authority, the current village hall would be totally transformed into a modern building at the heart of the village.

The project started when the village’s post office and stores looked under threat, leaving residents worried about the local shop’s future.

A fighting fund to set up a community shop was boosted by a grant of nearly £10,000 from the Bright Ideas programme run by the Power to Change trust which supports community businesses in England.

But when it emerged that this would not be feasible, the money was put towards converting the 100-year-old village hall into a community hub.

A team of volunteers has been working on plans for the new building over the past three years, negotiating issues over its location on the open Forest with Forestry England, the verderers and Natural England.

The view from main road
The view from main road

But the group has now finalised its plans which have been submitted to the national park authority.

Steve Antczak, village hall secretary, said: “We are only going to build it once, so we have to get it right first time.”

Designs show areas of glazing to make the hall bright and open, with a basement area housing a large kitchen, storerooms, eight toilets and a lift. The original hall will be enlarged by the addition of a small, two-storey extension increasing seating capacity by around 20%.

There will be a mezzanine area where the stage lighting and sound equipment will be housed. A four metre, roll-down cinema screen will be fitted on the stage and a high-definition projector fitted for film nights with live streaming from London theatres.

A small theatre dressing room and office will be built above the main entrance making the hall ideal for amateur dramatics. It will also be available for private hire.

Vertical wooden slats will cover the walls, roof and windows, producing a rustic, barn-like appearance. At night they will restrict the light emanating from the building. There will be solar panels on the roof and energyefficiency measures.

The hub at night showing minimal light pollution
The hub at night showing minimal light pollution

East Boldre resident Rebecca Gabzdyl is one of the volunteers working on the building’s plans. She has taken charge of the creation of the community shop and is working with the Plunkett Foundation, which supports such stores.

Ms Gabzdyl is also collaborating with Ian Evans, owner of the existing village shop, and has been working in it for several months to learn about the business.

She said: “The community shop and hub will create local jobs and provide local volunteering opportunities. With the shop open for much of the day, the hall will be used more by a wider cross-section of the community. We see the hub as a catalyst to a stronger, more cohesive community.”

Fundraising volunteers are being sought, along with those who have expertise in theatre and cinema. If approved by the NPA, it is hoped building work will start next year. For more information visit www.eastboldre.org/hub.html

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