Oldhamstocks Community Association
Committee Meeting held in the Hall on 10th August 2017
Present: Neil Richerby (Chair), Barbara Richerby, John Hanvidge, Alison Mells, Sharon Simpson, Gordon Simpson, Nathan Simpson, Lauryn Simpson, Lorna Bairden, Angus Macdonald, with Elaine Baillie in attendance, and also John Sanders, Catriona O'Neill and Kyle Kotkin-Smith (student) from S&B and Stephen Bremner from DS (QS).
Apologies: Jacquie Riddell, Chris Bruce, Janice Hanvidge.
Welcome: Neil welcomed all present.
Discussion of Option 3 revised hall design:
Sharon queried the size of the hall and meeting room as compared with those on the plan displayed on the boards – she was concerned that there might not be sufficient room for things like a hairdressing basin, massage table, facilities for chiropodist etc, these extra facilities/amenities being important for helping older folk in the community, and also bearing in mind that the provision of additional amenities will attract funding. S&B replied that the hall is the same size, excluding the two small storage areas either side of the door which we had agreed to omit, and that the meeting room has only been reduced by a small amount so that there should be room for these facilities. It might be possible to put a hairdressing basin in a shower-room (or simply to use a shower hose), but location of a shower-room requires further thought.... (A shower cannot be installed in the disabled toilet as it has to be available as a disabled toilet at all times; perhaps it can be incorporated in the larger female toilet which would then have to be made unisex. S&B to consider possibility and implication of access.) Alison commented that a sink/basin in the meeting room could also be useful in relation to other activities.
Angus questioned the need for a meeting room, but the rest of those present are agreed that this is a sensible new amenity.
Angus asked if storage provision is sufficient, and suggested that a discreet and simply-constructed extra building could be placed behind the hall. He suggested this could perhaps be done retrospectively, but we are aware that this would be less satisfactory as it would be more expensive (more excavation/levelling of ground and problem of access?) and would require new funding and planning application. The first suggestion was to have extra storage filling in the NE corner, behind the main hall, like a shed rather than incorporated in the main construction; John H then suggested that the short and long sections of wall at that back corner, already on the design, could be swapped over to become the walls of the extra storage area, so reducing the need for extra cost; Lornathen proposed that it might be more sensible to put extra storage at the NW corner, where there is already plant storage and a bin area, and paved access –we all agreed that this would be a very good solution. John S proposed moving the low retaining wall out westwards to enlarge that area – S&B to consider further.
We have yet to be much clearer about what items require to be stored - e.g. to make a decision about the staging- and must consider this somewhat urgently. We need to make an inventory which details items that are for weekly use, occasional use, vulnerable etc.
Neil asked if the wall between the meeting room and the main hall could revert to being more flexible to allow both spaces to be used together – S&B to consider.
The first design (Option 1, as on exhibition boards) is 240 sq m; Option 3 is 210 sq m. Main costs are the superstructure and services. We need to achieve a balance of space/size, cost and aesthetics - all must relate so that we can be sure we are able to make the building work well for the community. With reference to the comparative example projects listed in the DS cost plan, and in answer to the question of how cheaply we can have Option 1, Stephen said that costs (either Option 1 or 3) cannot go below £2k per sq m, and that his figures are based on recognised outline costs and well-researched benchmarks, and do have built-in contingencies. (Note: the playpark is not in the cost plan.)
Talking about the possibility of using local trades/finding a local main contractor etc, Stephen and John S pointed out that there are some possible pitfalls with this (and have knowledge of bad experiences) – if there are problems, ensuing troubles can be more difficult when in the locality; when inviting tenders from within, say, 20 miles, if someone is not on the list then offence can be caused; there may be adverse comments about “jobs for the boys”/preferential treatment etc. S&B and DS would expect/advise that the main contractor would be from the Central Belt area and would have a usual, trusted and experienced team of subcontractors, and that leaving the choice of subcontractors to the chosen main contractor avoids issues/problems. Angus suggested finding out who built the Co'path Hall, and researching contractors who have done good work locally (e.g. at the Bleachingfield), and Sharon suggested asking ELC who built selected buildings – there is no harm in this! The advice is to interview contractors before inviting tenders, and at this stage there would also be references required. John S said that S&B recommend a traditional tender process, where the QS figures are not shown but where there is a specification of a ballpark range of cost to generate competition. It is possible that quite a spread of quotes would be received, but Stephen is confident that generally his cost plans are on the mark. This process, however, is as yet further down the line.
Angus asked about the high costof electrics on Stephen's cost plan – he replied that he is using benchmark costs and is reluctant to reduce this element as there is not an M+E design expert on board yet.
In answer to Dougie's observation made at the last meeting about getting some materials more cheaply locally, Stephen advised that it is indeed possible, but that it would be best to get materials ourselves, with agreement from/informing the main contractor rather than asking the contractor to deal with this. However, materials should be included in the tender as normal to start with, as the skill/labour/plant element must still be calculated for by the main contractor.
Once planning permission has been given, there is some latitude for minor changes – Planners are interested in how the building serves the community, and the character of the building. If, for example, there were a change to positioning a shower, this would affect the building warrant side of things. John S suggested that we could expect the planning permission process to take perhaps a minimum of 12 weeks from time of registration. Letters of objections and support are put on the planning website for public view, but are not necessarily replied to. Letters of support are important! Having planning permission in place (valid for 3 years) is good when making applications for funding.
Angus asked for an estimate ofthe possible build-time. John S and Stephen replied that it might be approx 6 months. Erection of the main structure may not take long and, even though the rest of the work would not be too disruptive, we are aware that the Green must be in a good state for the Flower Show.
John S's advice stands – to have further consultation (as agreed previously – a doorstep letter delivery/chat, with opportunity to reply directly to S&B with answers/comments) and proceed immediately to planning permission stage. It will be important to give information - give an update on what's been happening (the process of moving from option 1 to revised option 3, responding to and taking on board suggestions and comments from the March consultation events), mention discussions with architects and QS, the consequent significant reduction in cost plan with costs per sq m comparable with other projects, say that we are ready to proceed to planning, show the design plan and drawing and ask if people like it. We may expect that some minor changes could arise from this next stage of consultation. There was a suggestion that we could also use Facebook in this consultation, but Alison pointed out that comments are best directed to and dealt with by S&B. Elaine asked if there could be information to hand out at the Flower Show, but we decided that there is not enough time to arrange this. The exhibition boards remain on view, but it was suggested that there could be a brief notice to explain that, as a result of those March events, revisions have been made and that the community will be informed/updated shortly.
We need to prepare the letter to the community.
We are accepting Option 3, assuming further consideration/revision of storage, provision of a shower, and flexibility of meeting room/main hall wall/division.
It may be possible to satisfy funders if we have a missive detailing the planned and agreed purchase. We await advice from the lawyer.
Sharon reported that LEADER may not after all be keen to fund an air source heat pump as this may in effect result in government funding twice over, but as LEADER is in theory keen to support this sort of project, she hopes to have encouraging advice from them as to the best way to secure their support. She and Neil reminded us that Viridor are also keen that we apply for tranches of funding for specific elements, such as the playpark.
Minutes of the previous meeting were approved;
bench-painting will take place on Sunday 13th at 2pm;
there is no date as yet for the Curry Night.