The Councils designing the Southborough Hub have responded to public comments and it appears the plans may be changed to incorporate a larger kitchen or bar.
A new planning application is scheduled to be submitted in November 2018 with an outcome early in 2019 prior to start on site in 2019. Compared with the original plans, the new plan sees “a major reduction in circulation space within the building but keeps all other elements as closely aligned to the previous submission”.
A new document on the Southborough Town Council website written by the project manager, Jonathan White, explains that: “the new designs have shifted the main hub building to the north ensuring that the town square can be made larger and accommodate more activity.”
The following additional questions and answers from the council have been published:
Q: There is no café/bar in the new proposals
A: Internal designs are being considered which if approved, would move the kitchen area adjacent to the library space and include a hatch in to the library. This would allow for a café and a bar subject to operational requirements.
Q: The kitchen being proposed is too small!
A: Internal designs are being considered which if approved would enlarge the kitchen area
Q: Will there be a disabled toilet and a baby change area?
A: Yes, there will be disabled toilets on both levels of the Hub, there will also be a baby change facility
Q: Toilets are all unisex!
A: Toilets remain as individual cubicles that will be allocated as Male, Female, Disabled, and Unisex in a flexible arrangement to meet equality requirements and optimal operational efficiency.
Q: There are insufficient toilets to meet the current standards
A: The building meets the current toilet standard requirements
Q: Will the hub building be fully accessible for disabled people?
A: Yes, the building will be fully accessible and will meet part L and M of the building regulations
Q: There is no lift to the second floor of the main hub building
A: There is a lift to the second floor of the hub building and it can be found in the west wing of the main hub building adjacent to the stairs
Q: There is insufficient space in the facility for when there are large theatre performances
A: The space in the library will be used flexibly with bookshelves being able to be moved out of the way to accommodate for larger gatherings – the library and the theatre will work together to minimise any disruption to their clients
Q: There is no segregated room for children in the new library. Does this not raise child safety issues?
A: There will be a children’s area in the new library space but the service does not require them to be segregated. Library furniture can be used to give the area a more defined space for children. There are no child safety issues with this proposal
Q: How will the theatre work if the community rooms which double as changing rooms are already booked out?
A: The operator of the hub will ensure that the hall/theatre requirements and the rental of the community rooms can work in harmony to maximise the use of the facility (Second floor plan shown below – part of medical centre is to right of plan)
Q: The noise from the theatre will impact the library area
A: Libraries are aware of the impact the theatre may have on their service and will work with customers to ensure any disruption is minimised
Q: If the building is open at night people will steal from the library
A: The library service are happy for people to use the self service machines out of hours to borrow books from the library even when staff are not present. Theft of library stock is very rare
Q: The community rooms have been shrunk from the previous designs
A: The new community rooms are larger than the previous designs at 141 square meters excluding storage compared to 81 square meters in the old designs
Q: Are the Theatre Trust comments being addressed?
A: The Theatre Trust has raised the same comments as they previous did for the prior submission and once again these are being picked up and a response has been sent to them. They are a statutory consultee as part of the planning process and we will continue to work with them to ensure the best outcome for the facility. They have also raised the issue of the café and that has been picked up separately within these FAQs.
Q: The community rooms have large glazed areas that will mean they are not suitable to act as changing rooms for the hall/theatre
A: The project will ensure that the necessary blinds are in place to give the privacy required.
Q: There are insufficient changing rooms
A: The community rooms are very large and can be split up to provide further changing rooms if required
Q: The building will be built using timber and pre-fabricated panels. This sounds like a cost saving exercise and how long will the building last?
A: The design life of the product is over 60 years however if maintenance is done properly the building will last forever as with any other building which is well maintained
Q: Where is the storage?
A: There are numerous storage areas throughout the facility including a large store adjacent to the hall able to take the stage and seating
Q: The hall can only accommodate 250 people. This is too small.
A: The hall can accommodate different setups up to 350 people
Q: What cladding is being proposed for the facility?
A: The cladding being proposed is a mixture of red terracotta cladding and a zinc based tile. There will also be some brick work at lower levels
Q: STC office is out of the way, not prominent enough and not accessible.
A: STC office location has been agreed by the Council and it is fully accessible
Q: You have not consulted with anyone on the designs?
A: A list of consultation discussions over the whole period of the project is available on the STC website
Q: Will there be any disabled parking for the GP surgery?
A: Yes there will be two disabled spaces provided adjacent to the GP surgery, these are in addition to a further two spaces being provided on the Ridgewaye Car Park as well
Q: Parking is inadequate when football clubs are present
A: An additional 40 parking spaces are being provided adjacent to the recreational ground to reduce the parking issues. In addition to these, a further 19 car parking spaces will also be provided via an extension at the Yew Tree Road Car Park.
Q: Will the library have fewer books than before?
A: The library will have just as many books as before
Q: Can we please have another name than the Southborough Hub?
A: It is anticipated that prior to opening a name will be given to the facility
Q: Will the pharmacy be going in to the retail unit?
A: The partners are in negotiation with a number of potential tenants about who goes in to the space. The existing pharmacy in Southborough is not at risk from this development.
Q: Medical centre waiting area is too small.
A: The space being provided meets the NHS requirements
Q: There is no kitchen in the medical centre?
A: The space being provided meets the NHS requirements
Q: The building will cost Southborough lots of money to run and locals will end up subsidising it. When can we see the numbers?
A: The hub has a number of income streams notably from the GP surgery, retail unit, library and others which seeks to offset the running costs of the facility. The aim will be to ensure that STC are no worse off than they were before. The detailed numbers will be released once all agreements have been signed securing the income as doing so before hand would undermine the councils negotiating position.
Q: Why is there no air conditioning in the building?
A: Tinted glass, air handling units and large ceilings will ensure that air conditioning which is expensive to run and maintain will not be required.
Q: Who will run the centre?
A: The operations of the facility have yet to be agreed but will ultimately lie with Southborough Town Council with input from Kent County Council and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.
Q: How much will the Southborough Hub development cost?
A: The total cost of the entire scheme including residential investment is c£30M. The Hub capital build costs are anticipated to be around £10M.
Q: How much did you get from selling the land to Crest Nicholson?
A: The sale value of the land has yet to be finalised as Crest are delivering part of the infrastructure works which will be offset against the land value once completed. Roughly speaking the land sale will pay for two thirds of the Hub buildings with the remainder coming from partners, grants and investment from the NHS.