Future of school site in Staplehurst discussed
Friday 3rd February 2017
STAPLEHURST Village Centre could be transformed after a consultation with residents.
More than 150 people attended an open day to see how the former school, which was acquired by Staplehurst in 1989, might be used.
Many have filled out feedback slips which will be studied as part of the scheme.
It is currently managed by a seven-strong trust, with two trustees provided by the parish council.
Staplehurst parish councillor John Perry (pictured) said: “I don’t think that many people would argue that the place is looking a little tired that something needs to be done with it.
“What is probably more strongly felt is the need to have a place in the centre of the village where people and the clubs and societies can meet. That’s very important.
“But it’s very early days. My personal view is that the sports facilities can be concentrated at the Jubilee Fields, but the parish offices and the place for clubs and societies should be central to the village.
“The question might be, do we keep the front of the building as it is or do we have a completely new building?”
Plans were displayed from three sets or architects during the open day last month. One firm, People and Place, has put forward two ideas – one for a refurbishment with an extension to the building or another to demolish it and rebuild afresh.
The building is not listed, said Cllr Perry, who also serves as a borough councillor for the community.
There is currently a Village Centre Development Committee tasked with looking at all the options.
Few disagree that the North Hall, in particular, needs refurbishment.
Any possible option might be hampered by access issues to the Sobel Lodge home, at the rear of the centre site.
This could be remedied by expanding into the Kent County Council-run youth facility next door.
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