Report by Framlingham PCC on St Michael’s Community Rooms for Framlingham Town Council 6th August 2020 posted 10.08.20
At the Town Council meeting on 4th June it was reported that costs for this project as then currently designed were very substantially in excess of the budget of £840k.
Over the last two months further work has been undertaken to understand the reasons for this mismatch and to amend the design to reduce the deficit whilst maintaining the integrity of the project.
Discussions have taken place between PCC and Town Council representatives together with Councillor Cook.
This report sets out the current situation as seen by the PCC and the assistance we would appreciate from the Town Council
Attached is a revised layout (that has been on the Town Council website for some time) for SMCR that enables significant cost savings to be achieved whilst still providing a substantial Hall that can accommodate well over 100 people, a meeting room than can seat 16 people together with a good sized kitchen, toilets and storage space. The floor space of the building has been reduced, bringing significant cost savings, primarily by a reduction in general circulation space and more efficiently located storage. The fitting out of the building has been looked at critically and various changes made which do not affect the use of the building. The wall cladding of the building is proposed to be timber rather than zinc sheeting. Only part of the car park will be resurfaced: disabled spaces plus the driveway through only.
Further exploration of the drainage and M&E elements of the building is taking place to see if more cost effective provision can be secured.
The current cost estimate for the project, including a £50k contingency, is £1.067m. which is £227k higher than the budget of £840k
Analysis of the original budget compared with the recent costings has been undertaken to understand why the two are so different
We have looked in detail at the makeup of the original £840k budget that FTC agreed with the architect.
It is apparent that the last cost estimates from Jackson Coles (the architect’s then Quantity Surveyor) of construction and demolition, when combined with fees, furniture, a contingency plus other disbursements such as planning fees, totalled in August 2018 around £940k, i.e. £100k over the budget determined just two months previously. The architect assured all parties that cost reductions could be achieved to meet the budget but no further cost analysis was then undertaken.
Additionally the original cost estimates for drainage and foundations of the building made no allowance for the local site conditions. The presence of substantial mature trees close to the building and the archaeological sensitivity of the site has meant that significantly more expensive foundations and drainage provision has had to be made to comply with the Building Regulations - at least £80k more than allowed for.
The M&E costs have also risen significantly based on work by local consultants which now includes the cost of Photovoltaic panels and an electric vehicle charging point that Suffolk County Council standards require.
The quality of finishes of the building were also of a high standard that the original costings do not seem to have reflected.
The time that it has taken to bring this project to its current stage has also resulted in extra costs due to inflation.
Because a number of the above matters have now to be included in the project it is inevitable that the scheme costs have to rise. Final costs will only be known when the work is tendered but working with our professional team, including a local Quantity Surveyor, the PCC believes that the budget of £1.067m is appropriate given the local conditions.
The PCC is aware from the negotiations on the legal agreement that it entered into with the Town Council on funding, that compliance with the provisions of the 1976 Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Act is essential in considering grant aid.
The PCC’s Quantity Surveyor has looked in some detail at the current budget costing and calculates that £276,870 of the build costs are for “fitting out” which would accord with the wording of the legal agreement as key to being fundable by FTC . The fitting out enables the building to provide recreational facilities for the town. . On that basis the provisions of the 1976 Act should therefore not be an impediment to FTC giving further funds to the project. The biggest elements of the £276k are some £136k on Mechanical and Electrical Services, £47k for flooring throughout the building, £31k for the panelling in the main hall, £15k for fixtures and fittings in the kitchen together with storage cupboards and blackout blinds, and £17k for doors partitions and other fixtures.
It is difficult to envisage how the PCC could raise the whole of the extra £227k needed to fund the project and the help of the Town Council is requested. Given that the project appears to have been underfunded by some £100k when the Town Council passed the lead for the project to the PCC the help of FTC in providing additional funding would be most appreciated. It is requested that the Town Council funding contribution is the same as it was going to contribute when it made the CIL bid to Suffolk Coastal i.e. £126k of local CIL money (rather than the £70k in the legal agreement with the PCC) and support the use of £14k FDDT money for the project.
This would enable the PCC to consider a somewhat more realistic target of future fundraising needed for the new Rooms to be built – a further £157k greater than the contribution of £70k budgeted – to include grant aid from other Charities and East Suffolk Council, fundraising and donations.
Benefits of SMCR
In January when the public exhibition was held over 180 people attended and support for the project was very enthusiastic. Only one member of the public completed a comment form objecting to the development. Most responses were very enthusiastic both about the design and the facilities it can offer.
Both at the exhibition and at other times a wide range of social and recreational organisations have expressed a strong interest in using SMCR ranging from the Film Club to the Art club , as well as continuing use by groups such as the Bridge Club and Coastal Leisure Learning.
Although support for SMCR may inevitably not be universal in Framlingham the PCC believes the project has widespread support in the town reflecting both the longstanding presence of a community facility for the town on this site but also the need for such a facility given the gradual loss over the years of many of the town’s other community facilities such as the Assembly Rooms, the Conservative Club and the British Legion.
The town has not managed to bring to completion many attempts to deliver a new community building in the centre of the town and it would be hugely regrettable if this opportunity was also to be lost. The existing St Michael’s Rooms is in a poor structural state so its future is not assured.
The PCC representatives would welcome the opportunity to meet with FTC councillors to discuss the matters raised in this report and questions they might have.
ST. MICHAEL’S COMMUNITY ROOMS PROJECT UPDATE JUNE 2020
The Town Council, volunteers and the Parochial Church Council (PCC) have been working on this possibility for over two years now. Differing parties have led at different stages to choose an architect, in working through various plans and agreements which moved from Framlingham Town Council (FTC) being responsible and leasing the land;, through to the PCC taking responsibility with assistance from East Suffolk Council and in partnership with FTC. All parties believed we were working with a fairly secure budget of £840k to cover the whole build and new equipment and this figure became the basis for the agreements between the parties.
Since the exhibition of the plans in January 2020 the PCC has been working hard with the architects, structural engineer, quantity surveyor and other experts. We had been hopeful that a Planning Application would be made in April. However a number of serious and costly issues have arisen:
Because of topography, possible archaeology and tree protection the foundation and groundwork costings became considerably more expensive than had been budgeted for.
Additional professional fees for the above issues were necessary and for investigating the Mechanical and Electrical engineering aspects. These included environmental concerns including 1 or more Electric Vehicle Charging Points now required by the County Council.
The initial contingency provision was substantially less than would normally be built in to initial costings.
The car parking surface will be more expensive in order to protect the trees.
It became clear that the architect’s view that £840,000 would be sufficient needed to be fully tested before a Planning Application was made.
In April the PCC received the first total build and furnishings cost of £1.36m covering the whole build and new furnishings – an increase of 62% which was not forecast. We were advised by the Architect and Quantity Surveyor that it might be possible to reduce the costs by reviewing all areas, reducing the size of the total building and simplifying the specification. The PCC asked them to proceed with this.
A new plan – Option 3 – is attached which shows a simpler building with a hall that accommodates up to 112 seated (previously 120), a meeting room with space for 16 seated around a table (previously 20), smaller office, the kitchen and downstairs store are about the same size. The heating would be by gas boiler and radiators. The specification now includes treated softwood weather boarding rather than Rheinzink wall cladding.
On 29th May we found out this has reduced the total to £1.067m. The work on car parking surfaces, renewing tables and chairs would all have to be delayed and come out of the income of the new hall when they would be deemed as new work to an existing build and so VAT would have to be paid on these works.
The PCC finds itself in a very difficult position. It was making steady progress towards the £70,000 funding to match the Town Council Grant. But finding new sources of generous external grants is increasingly difficult. Covid 19 rightly means that many large funders are now concentrating on funding projects directly linked to the pandemic. Accordingly a building which is trying to encourage community growth and interaction may not be a priority for grants in the next few years. Another effect of the pandemic is that the PCCs income is at present down by about 50%. The PCC will not have access to central Church funding as this will be focussed on supporting congregations through the cash shortages.
The PCC has been considering its next steps. There does not seem to be any significant scope to reduce the size or specification of the building further without prejudicing the very purposes for which it is aimed or affecting the ability to gain planning permission.
The PCC is willing to consider increasing its fund raising contribution. Realistically the PCC knows it would be unable on its own to raise the full £230,000 over its existing commitment to meet the new target of £1.07m. However willing it has limited resources, the current funding climate and its other charitable purposes all affect its ability. Alternatively launching a large appeal would delay any building and lead to increased costs again.
Members of the PCC are meeting with Town Councillors and a District Councillor to discuss what has happened and what possibilities there are.
Mark Sanders 5th June 2020
St Michael’s Community Rooms Exhibition 17/18thJanuary 2020
The organisers are very grateful to everyone who came and especially to those who shared responses. Around 150 people came over the two sessions and there was a good buzz with helpful questions and answers about the design and the possibilities. We have had 76 written responses on the comment forms and there are some still being returned as people see the plans which are now displayed in the Church.
There were a lot of compliments about the design. 58 people (76%) were, without reservation, in favour of the proposals. 12 (16%) were not opposed but had a query about one issue, & a further 5 (7%) queried two issues. There was one person out of the 76 who was not in favour ofthe proposals. We are happy to receive further comments and any ideas which people have.
The biggest concern expressed is about car parking and we understand the importance of this. The County Council’s requirements for a hall this size is for 13 car spaces, 3 blue badge spaces, 2 motorcycle spaces and at least one bike rack. We are now working on how to optimise and manage hall parking and we will be having further conversations with the Town Council about the overall parking situation in the Town & will keep people informed.
3 people (4%) would like a bigger hall. The limitation of space on the site, the priority given to two rooms, with the need to preserve access to St Michael’s Close and the availability of parking are all factors in the design solutions. This will be looked at again with the architects.
Sound management (4%) in the hall and for residents around have been concerns from the beginning and continue to be so. More information will follow as the designs progress.
There was good discussion about the colour of the cladding during the exhibition with some people seeing how it met the design objective and some feeling that the colour displayed was too dark. 3 people mentioned the darkness as an issue on the comments form. This will be discussed with the architects in finalising the design and the planning application.
2 people wondered whether the kitchen is big enough. We have tried to balance the space necessary for the kitchen and the need for ground floor storage. We have tested the size out with some users who thought it would be appropriate. We will continue to consider the size of the kitchen as we work towards the planning application.
We are working hard with Haydens, a company of ArboriculturalConsultants who are advising us on tree health and needs. We will work with District and Town Council officers to find the best mix of protecting roots & replacing trees already diseased. More work will be done during the Spring and Summer. Environmental issues are important to us and were mentioned. We are seeking further professional advice.
During February there will be conversations with the architects, structural engineer and Quantity Surveyor working on the project and we hope moving it towards Planning Processes. We will keep people informed through the PCC and FTC websites and in Framfare and other publications.
We will keep current users informed during the planning and redevelopment. We are finalising arrangements with East Suffolk Council on their funding towards the project.
We will honour our commitment to keep people informed and thanks to those who have volunteered to help or to make a donation. We will follow up on those offers of help and there will be general information sent to everybody during the spring.
The positive affirmation at the Exhibition and the concerns expressed both encourage and help us to proceed. The plans are still available to be viewed in St Michael’s Church. We welcome further comments (please send to email@example.com or put through the letterbox on St Michael’s Rooms)
St Michael’s Community Rooms project: Exhibition of plans for St Michael’s Community Rooms Thank you to everyone who came to the exhibition; we had a good number of visitors, and useful responses which we are working through. February will see us considering what was said and meeting with the Architects Quantity Surveyor and Structural Engineer to work out the plans which we would like to send as the Planning Application during the Spring. The Fund Raising Group has been meeting and is planning a Ceilidh and a Singalongathon for the summer - more about those in the March newsletter.
**Friday 17th 7-8pm as well as on Saturday morning**
SATURDAY JANUARY 18TH 9.00 – 12.30
EXHIBITION OF PLANS AND IDEAS FOR THE NEW ST MICHAEL’S COMMUNITY ROOMS (SMCR)
The Church Council (PCC) with the original Working Group made up of local people have been looking at updated plans. There is an ambitious list of projects we would love to see the space used for; from private functions through to luncheon clubs, social opportunities for all ages, societies and meetings, crafts, dance and recreational uses of all sorts. The Church’s use will be a small proportion of the total and most of it would be for similar social and community purposes.
To achieve all this SMCR will provide a hall about the same size as the present SMR. Meetings of about 120 people or around 90 seated at tables will be possible according to the architect. There will also be a meeting room for 20 people. The plans include good access, kitchen and toilets and plenty of storage.
UPODATE 5th JANURAY 2020
Since the November TC meeting the PCC has progressed the following:-
- We have met with the Architect and moved to a plan which we think meets the criteria and the needs of the community. This has been shared with the original working group from the community who generally seemed happy with the design and made helpful comments for this and future stages of planning.
- We have met with the District CIL officer and an officer from the Planning Department to talk the ESC grant through. This was a helpful and constructive meeting with an emphasis on working through any issues.
- The PCC has committed £9,500 towards its £70,000 fund in order to provide money for surveys and fees necessary for Planning Permission and is getting quotations from various professionals
- The PCC has established a Fund Raising Committee who will meet soon to discuss possibilities and begin planning a number of events
- The Architects and the PCC will run an exhibition of the plans for the public on FRIDAY 17th January 7-8pm Saturday 18th January from 9.00 -12.30 in the present St Michael’s Rooms. We hope many people will come and enter into conversation with us about the plans
We are delighted to be able to announce that there will be a public exhibition which will be open on FRIDAY 17th January 7-8pm and Saturday January 18th from 9.00-12.30 in the present St Michael’s Rooms. We’re hoping as many people as possible will come (we hope refreshments will be served throughout) to take a look, share perceptions, express concerns (any plan can be improved, but all have to include compromises) and learn what will be happening next.
Please follow the links below to view two documents explaining the The Business Case to replace the current St Michael’s Rooms with a modern building to meet the needs of the Framlingham Community in the 21st Century
UPDATE 11/11/2019 St Michael’s Rooms … St Michael’s Community Rooms
The plan is to provide a hall and a smaller room with storage and good facilities for the whole community.
The Town Council met on 7th November and the agenda included two important motions for progress on St Michael’s Rooms development.
This was passed unanimously as was the second motion:
The two documents - the Legal Agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will both be on the Council website as soon as possible. They provide a firm understanding and foundation for the project to proceed and the understandings of commitments on the Council and the PCC.
The way things have turned out much of the responsibility and risk will be carried by the PCC (Church Council) but they are clear that this is a Town Project for the whole community and is there to benefit all the residents as is right and proper in the use of CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy). If you are interested in being involved with the new St Michael’s Community Rooms do email firstname.lastname@example.org .
There is still a lot to be done. The hope is to gather an interested group together, to be in touch again with those who live nearby and to have a public exhibition in the New Year and then to move on to planning processes which will take some time.
St Michael’s Rooms will continue to serve the community in the mean time - if you wish to use them do contact the Parish Office email@example.com 01728 621255.
Updates will follow on a regular basis
Currently available for hire. Please contact Andrew Lovejoy (parish admin email for attention of Andrew).