New group set up to decide what happens to village assets

Bedford Hall Low Res

What’s happening with our village amenities? In our last edition, we reported on three major issues facing the village:

  • Peterborough City Council wants to sell buildings it owns in Church Street. These are the old infants and girls’ schools built by the Duke of Bedford. One part housed the old village community centre and the other is still used as the library, which will have to be relocated.
  • The city council wants to hand the Bedford Hall to a village management committee so it doesn’t have the burden of repairing and maintaining the building.
  • The sports pavilion in Thorney Park, owned by the city council, can’t be used because it’s falling to bits. There’s a growing campaign for the council to replace it.

So what has happened since April? A steering group called Thorney Futures has been formed comprising city councillors, council officials, members of Thorney Parish Council, representatives from the Bedford Hall management committee, the Thorney Society and Thorney Football Club.

The Thorney Post has also been invited to attend meetings.

Nothing is agreed so far, but the first two meetings of the group considered the following plans:

  • Bedford Hall to be owned by a new management company and grants sought to develop the building into a commercially viable operation, possibly with office space and a flat or accommodation.
  • Church Street buildings to be sold (estimate £220-£250K) and money to be used to build a new sports pavilion and meeting room in the park.
  • Library to be moved to the Duke of Bedford School and incorporated into new building work required to cope with increased numbers of pupils.

Since then, a group of people interested in serving on the new management committee for the Bedford Hall have met with a representative from the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) to get specialist advice and find out what support would be available. Some start-up funding is available to support community-led groups. A number of reports have been provided on the condition of the building and several, more in-depth reports are awaited.

Michael Bowen, chairman of Thorney Football Club, has met with council officials in the park. The council has promised to provide the club with support and funding to manage a new pavilion. The council is preparing drawings and plans showing design and location of a new pavilion. Thorney Parish Council may take on ownership of the building and sub-lease to the football club or the club may own it themselves.

Plans to move the library to the school were considered by school governors, who have said they have concerns over parking and security and do not want the library there.

Statement from Thorney Futures:

This statement has been issued to residents of the village by the Thorney Futures group:

Many of the organisations representing the village have recently started to meet formally with senior officers from the city council, to draw together plans to secure the future of some of the important assets the village benefits from.

Discussions are progressing positively in relation to:

  • Bedford Hall and the Museum – unique, architecturally significant buildings that provide invaluable community space and facilities
  • Public Library – an important service for residents of all ages
  • Sports pavilion – a vital changing facility to enable sports activity to take place locally

Alongside city council officers, the working group that has been created includes representation from your city councillors, the parish council, the Bedford Hall Management Committee, the Thorney Society, the school, and Thorney Football Club.

At this early stage, discussions are focusing on ensuring these vital facilities are protected for the village’s benefit for the future. There are no plans whatsoever to close either Bedford Hall or the Library, but it is nevertheless important we ensure they and other facilities are able to be self-sustaining and fit for purpose for generations more to enjoy.

A range of options will be agreed through the working group, the members of which are keen to make sure we hear from villagers as soon as we have more details to share.

We will provide regular updates through this and other media so that you are kept informed, and meanwhile if you have any ideas you’d like to feed in please do contact any of the organisations described above.

 

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