Tur Langton Village Hall
The first Tur Langton Village Hall consisted of two old Army huts, placed on a paddock of Spring Farm in 1920, owned by Mr Watts (Nora's father) at that time.
Spring Farm was sold to Merton College in 1936, although the Village Hall was allowed to remain on the land.
The existing hall was built and opened in 1972, at a cost of £4,800! The new hall was opened by Colonel Pen Lloyd, The High Sheriff of Leicestershire (below).
In 1977 the car park was extended, and in 1979 the store room was constructed at the rear of the hall at a cost of approximately £1,000.
Negotiations with Merton College
The Parish Council was told in 2004 that the College was unlikely to renew the lease as they intended to redevelop the site. Their view was that the Village Hall was no longer needed, and that the building was past its useful life. The Parish Council started to negotiate with the College's Agent, in an attempt to save the hall.
In response, the college suggested that a part of the Church could be enclosed and used as a village hall. This position was discussed by both the Parish Council and the St Andrew's PCC at the time, and the view was unanimous that it would not be appropriate to carry out such alterations to the church, and also that the use of the church would discourage some types of activities, and potentially some people with different religious views, from using the facility.
When this was rejected, in 2008, Merton offered an alternative site on which to build a new hall, in the field to the north of the Kibworth Road when exiting the village. This was offered on condition that the Parish Council supported the College’s application for planning permission for houses on the present site - as a planning application involving removal of a village asset would not be permitted without it. Whilst the land was offered free of charge, the cost of construction would have been shouldered by the villagers.
Discussions continued, but with very limited results, and in 2009 the village put together a petition to the Warden of Merton College, to make our views known. The petition was signed by 89 villagers. In the following year numerous further letters were sent directly to the Warden, in parallel with the ongoing discussions with the Land Agent. The college's position remained unchanged, that the village hall should close or move, to make way for their proposed development.
In March 2012, and ignoring all of the views that had been expressed by the village, Merton presented their plans for 2 houses on the site, again reiterating their view that the village hall should move to another site. The PC commissioned a detailed study to address this. A local Planning Consultant identified and reviewed all possible sites for a new hall around the village. The conclusion of this study was that, from a planning perspective, there were no suitable sites. The PC also investigated purchasing the present village hall site at this time, but the cost was prohibitive.
Discussions continued, because the village would not support the closure of the hall and the redevelopment of the site. The students of Oxford University got involved to argue our case, and Sir Edward Garnier MP also lobbied the Warden of Merton College on our behalf. The hall was also added to the Harborough District list of Assets of Community Value in June 2015, recognising it's importance to the local community.
Then in 2015, Merton finally agreed that the village hall could remain. Discussions continued to determine the terms of the lease, which was initially offered as 10 years with no option to extend, but which was eventually agreed for 20 years and signed in January 2017, 13 years after the discussion began.
The unfortunate side-effect of the uncertainty of tenure was that no money could be spent on the upkeep of the hall for the 13 years prior to the lease being agreed, leading to it falling into some disrepair. No substantial sums could be spent, because with no secure lease Merton could have evicted us at any time. The hall however continued to function, even as the physical condition deteriorated, being used regularly for keep fit, village parties, as well as being hired out by local sports groups.
To support the discussions with Merton College, two questions were included in the questionnaire for the Village Neighbourhood Plan to investigate the views of the village on the hall. This was carried out in April 2016, to feed into the developing policies of the Neighbourhood Plan.
The responses from this consultation were that 83% were in favour of renewing the lease (which was still in question at this time). The possibility of the village contributing to the costs of a renewed lease was also investigated. 46% responded that they wished to keep the village hall open, presumably accepting the increased cost; 42% selected the option for an increase in support to help with refurbishment. It is noted that, at this time, there was no lease and therefore the options and costs for any future refurbishment were not investigated.
The above responses have been taken into account in Policy CF1 of the emerging Neighbourhood Plan, with the aim of supporting the enhancement and growth of community facilities, including the Village Hall.
Following the signing of the lease, the renovation plans were progressed, a preliminary budget was calculated, a business plan prepared, and the options for raising the necessary funds were reviewed in detail. One of the conditions of the new lease from Merton College was that the renovation works must be completed within first 3 years of the lease period. This significantly limited the time available for fundraising. It became clear that the most appropriate means of financing the project was with a Public Works Loan. The approach adopted was that a loan of £55,000 (approximately 65% of the overall project budget) should be raised through a loan, with the remaining £30,000 targeted from village fundraising, pledges and grant funding.
A condition of the loan was that the Parish Council needed to have a secure source of funding to repay the loan, to avoid any risk of defaulting on the repayment if the income from the hall was lower than expected. The only option that the Parish Council had for this was to increase the Council Tax precept.
A further condition of the loan was that evidence of public support to increase the precept had to be submitted with the application. Whilst the above NP Consultation showed widespread support for the hall, it did not fulfil this condition, and therefore it was decided that a further, very specific, consultation was carried out.
The results of the consultation were:
69% of respondents support the renovation
65% support the proposal to take out a loan to finance the project
55% of respondents have offered help with the works
On the basis of this result, the Parish Council, at its meeting on of 1st May resolved to seek approval of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to apply for a PWLB loan of £55,000 up to 19 years for the renovation of the Village Hall. The full supporting information for the loan is provided here
The refurbishment commenced immediately upon receipt of the loan, in October 2019, with the re-roofing of the hall. The work continued with the replacement of the windows, insulation, electrical and plumbing work, and a complete interior overhaul. Accessible toilet facilities were installed and energy efficient heating and lighting added. Further details of the refurbishment can be found here
The hall was opened in March 2020, after the COVID-19 lock-down restrictions were eased.