In response to some questions that have been raised with regard to the Town Hall Renaissance project, we have produced this list of Frequently Asked Questions.
For further information on the project itself, please visit the Town Hall Renaissance webpage.
Q: Why is the Council doing this?
The main ambition for this project is to;
- Regenerate the Town Hall square and bring jobs and economic activity into the Town Centre.
- To be a platform for commercial investment, regeneration and increased private sector confidence in Rother District Council.
- Become a center for community activities and community services to create mutual opportunities for social interactions, opportunities for community engagement and events.
- Significant improvement in conserving and enhancing the Town Hall to reaffirm the cultural community and historic significance in Rother.
- Reduce the future financial burden on Rother taxpayers for maintaining the current buildings.
Over the last decade, the Council has spent significant sums in roof repairs as well as upgrades to windows, doors and life safety systems. However, the building continues to deteriorate and requires substantial annual maintenance to keep it operational and compliant.
Q: Why are we replacing the current villas?
After thorough investigations, it was concluded that the villas were not fit for purpose and would be better replaced with a new sustainable Civic Centre.
The villas have small cramped offices, poor ventilation and sunlight, long corridors, narrow inaccessible stair cases and constantly changing floor levels. The villas are not suitable for wheelchair users or those with mobility issues, including staff.
If we want to drive economic productivity, we need to increase our footprint and there is enough space across the site to allow this improvement whilst also improving the environment for our staff and customers.
Q: What benefit will a new building have for Rother?
The aim is to increase productivity in the area by making the Town Hall site the Civic Heart of Rother.
This new building will not only compliment the beauty of the historic Town Hall and reconnect its value with its customers but will increase the opportunities for new business and productivity on our high streets.
The Town Hall site is Bexhill’s most sustainable employment location. New, modern facilities have the potential to open the door for greater long-term prospects for our community. It will host; new open office spaces, new café and public event spaces, meeting rooms for confidential chats, collaborative areas for our visitors, a public garden and increased accessibility around the buildings and connection with the Town Square.
Q: How will you keep the look and feel of Bexhill alive?
Bexhill and its heritage are of significant fondness to those who live, work and visit the area. We take this very seriously and all efforts will be placed on investing in enhancing its heritage setting. Careful consideration has gone into the look, colours and textures to restore its original features whilst advancing our technologies to increase its sustainable performance.
Q: What will happen to the Council Chamber and Committee Rooms?
The Council Chamber and Committee Rooms will remain and the Town Hall as a whole, will undergo a light touch refurbishment ensuring an enrichment of its original features.
Q: Why do we need another café when there are so many in Bexhill?
It is a social space with the opportunity for a food offering. The increase in the number of staff who will work in and around the Town Hall will require additional catering facilities. Whilst this space has been designated as a servery, it has been designed to be flexible to change into a collaborative space for functions and community events.
We will reach out to local vendors and suppliers so our offering remains a part of the Rother community.
Q: How will the construction be funded?
Rother District Council are committed to ensuring every penny of Council Tax goes into providing the best possible services for residents. This means not spending vast sums of money every year on energy and maintenance for a building that is not fit for purpose.
This project is self-funding and will not cost the taxpayers of Rother anything. The building will generate an income through rent and make significant savings on energy and maintenance. Combined, these will be used to pay back the loan required for the construction.
Q: What if the costs increase? The UK economic market is not stable.
Rother District Council have undertaken a full cost appraisal based on July 2022 prices and will continue to closely monitor the costs during the process.
A main contractor will be appointed to build for a fixed price therefore, we will know very early-on whether the project is remains affordable. In addition, risk and contingency costs have been built into the cost appraisal as well as allowing contingency on specific items which have demonstrated volatility in the current market place, such as steel and brick prices.
Q: What about the governments Climate Agenda?
This is a big driver for this project. The refurbishment of the Town Hall will provide significant savings on our overall energy consumption. The project will;
- Minimise carbon footprint.
- South facing Solar Panels on the roof to contribute to energy performance and lower costs. Increase connectivity and encourage the use of pedestrian and cyclist connectivity through the town centre.
- Reuse, repurpose and adapt where necessary to increase thermal performance and promote health and wellbeing.
- Seeking biodiversity net gains across the site with the inclusion of green roofs.
- Introduce blue roof sustainable drainage systems.
- Air Source Heat Pumps enable us to generate our own renewable heat, reduce carbon footprint as well as reducing operational cost.
Q: What is the proposed timeline to complete?
Subject to planning approval in October 2022, construction will begin early 2023.
Q: Who will run the building after it is built?
Rother District Council will continue to manage the buildings and is tenants during and after construction.