After two years of preparation work on the £1.5m refurbishment of Hook Community Centre has begun
Long-awaited work on the £1.5 million refurbishment of the "shabby and outdated" Hook Community Centre has finally started.
Initial work on the Ravenscroft building began this month with site offices set up and Hook Parish Council moving into a temporary building.
Demolition and stripping-out works on the building will start next month.
Anne Atkins, Hook Parish Council clerk, said the project will be a "great facility for Hook for the next 25 years".
“It will provide improvements to acoustics and lighting in the halls for hire, which will increase the range of activities that can be accommodated,” she said. “There will be more appropriate, safer facilities for the nursery, enhancements to the squash courts to enable coaching and a long-awaited community café.
"The project aims to deliver an enhanced building with a range of new technologies.
“Hook is set to grow by at least 500 houses in coming years and community buildings are a vital focal point for events, sports and leisure activities, networking opportunities and more.”
The community centre was built in 1986 and the council said it does not offer the flexible, modern facilities required.
Ms Atkins added: “The roof leaks and the windows need replacing, as do the electrics and plumbing. The heating system is inefficient and expensive. It is fair to say the condition of the building is shabby and outdated.”
The council spent two years working with the Hook Village Halls Charitable Association to develop proposals to refurbish the building. The new centre will feature a new reception area which will offer access to the parish council office and community café.
A foyer will lead to three rooms available for hire. Access to the squash courts, nursery and The Base youth centre will also be changed.
The main hall currently has a very high ceiling, making it difficult to heat and ventilate, and the poor acoustics make it unsuitable for social events. The new hall will have a lower ceiling and improved acoustics and soundproofing will reduce noise interference between the main hall and the small hall next door.
The Club Room at the rear, between the squash courts and main hall, is difficult to access and has limited functionality. This area will be extended to add a new toilet, changing and shower facility for users.
Above this, a first floor will be added to accommodate a large meeting room and viewing balcony for squash coaching.
The Base youth centre and Village Nursery are expected to remain on site during construction while other clubs and societies will move.
Although the parish council will remain on site, its monthly meetings will move to the Elizabeth Hall in Raven Road.
The project is expected to be completed in late September.