Go WiNSpace 24 – WiNSpace receives £300,000 grant from the UK Government Community Ownership Fund

We have just heard from the Government’s Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities that the WiNSpace project has been awarded in principle £300,000.

This award comes from the Community Ownership Fund and is one of only 26 community centres and village halls in the whole of the UK to receive funding for community projects  This is fantastic news given that across the UK, requests for funding significantly outstrip the funds that were available.

A great deal of work goes into the writing of funding applications and our thanks go to the Winscombe and Sandford Parish Council and John Penrose MP, for their much appreciated formal letters of support for our application. We now await a meeting in January with the Department to discuss the details of our project and to sign an official funding agreement.

This award brings us even closer to the goal of building and modernising the Winscombe Community Centre for everyone, now with over 75% of funding identified and a start date penciled in for this August.  We also still have other grant applications being assessed, including one for £200,000 from the National Lottery, so over the next two months we’ll hopefully bring you more good news stories and project updates.

This means that it’s all systems ‘Go WiNSpace 24’

WiNSpace gets Planning Approval

So after 11 months of waiting and the submission of 35 documents we have just learnt that:

Our plans for the development of the Winscombe Community Centre have been approved by the North Somerset Local Planning Authority.

If you wish to read in full what the Planners had to say and the conditions which have been attached to the planning have a look at the NS Planning Portal at North Somerset Planning 21/P/1037/FUL.

These are just some of the comments made in the planning report:

‘the proposed development has been designed to be sympathetic to its surroundings as well as providing the community with an improved community facility’

‘the location of the proposed development is well related to the community it is intended to serve and is genuinely accessible by sustainable modes of transport’.

‘the results of a protected species survey conclude that there is negligible potential for protected species to be affected by the development’

The planners have placed 24 conditions to the planning application, these include:

  • We start building within 3 years
  • We build in accordance with the plans we submitted including drainage schemes, tree protection & ecology assessments.
  • We gain final agreement from the Local Planning Authority for external wall and roof materials, building heights, external light scheme and drainage management & maintenance, before starting the build.
  • We have approval for the Construction Environmental & Ecological Management Plan, Construction Method Plan & Noise Management Plan.
  • We don’t start using the new building until we have provisioned the parking, electric charging points for vehicles, racks for 28 bikes, and solar panels & air source heat pumps, installed and working.

In Summary, this is a massive step forward with an approved design to take forward to funders and potential users. With nearly £1.3m of funding already identified, we have just 40% left to go. Individually, we can also dare to start dreaming of how we will use the Centre, and the activities and clubs we’d like to see.

Winscombe and Sandford Parish Council Survey about WiNSpace

As part of the WiNSpace Business plan for funding the £2M re-development cost for the Community Centre we have asked the local Parish Council if they could financially support the project in two ways:

Firstly via a grant or in other words a gift to the community and

Secondly via providing a loan which the Community Centre would pay back

The amount which the WiNSpace committee have asked for is £250,000 for the Grant and £250,000 for the loan. Both these amounts would be raised by the Parish Council using a Government loan scheme called Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) which provides Local Authorities the ability of raising funds at low fixed interest rates, repayable over a number of years.

Under the current proposal, both the grant and loans from the PWLB would be repayable over 30 years at an estimated cost of £12,500 per year, however this is dependent on the interest rate at the time of the application. For the WiNSpace loan the amount would be paid back via the Community Centre income. Whereas the Parish Council Grant would be paid back their loan via increasing the amount of the local council precept tax paid by each household by roughly £6 per year.

For the Parish Council to start formally looking into the grant and loans they need to know what the level of support for the improved facilities was across the whole of the Winscombe and Sandford Parish. Therefore they had a survey detail of which was in the Parish’s Occasional Newsletter which was circulated in early June 2021.

A summary of the results are given below or can be found on the Parish Council Website

Question 1
Question 2
Question 3
Question 4

Community Centre Planning Application

We have now submitted our planning application for the re-development of the centre. All the drawings and reports will shortly be on the planning portal of North Somerset Planning Department. In the meantime we have placed all the current documents on our Website which can be found by clicking on the link below. We’ll keep everyone updated as to when the application is available for public comment

Planning Documents

Report Summaries

As part of the planning process we have had to obtain specialist reports on the impact the building (s) could have on the local Ecology and whether the site and buildings are robust against flooding and surface water. For the Ecology assessment we have used a local company called Clarkson & Wood who are based Blackford (nr Wedmore). For the surface water strategy an engineering consultancy called Jenkins & Potter who are based in Bristol was employed. The reports which have been supplied are very detailed and will appear as part of our planning documentation, however to provide a ‘bit size’ summary the WiNSpace committee have produced synopsis of the reports which includes WiNSpace’s own thoughts on them. These can be viewed by downloading them here with our conclusions given below:

The conclusion which the WiNSpace Commiitte reached on the Ecology report were:

  • The WiNspace committee fully understands the impacts that developments such as the community centre has on local ecology.  However, by taking on board the advice of the Ecological consultants, we will hopefully provide benefits to both the Parish community and the local wildlife. With the support of local wildlife groups and community engagement we can hopefully create a hub for not only inside activities but increase awareness of the environment outside and the local area
  • By fully acknowledging that we were in a Special Area for Conservation, the need to mitigate the effects of the building, carpark and its location on the field were designed in at an early stage. Therefore, we will hopefully achieved the difficult balancing act of having no overall impact on the local ecology whilst minimising the effect on the neighbouring houses.
  • By developing meadow and wildlife areas on the WCA site, including: bird, bat, habitat pile/hibernaculum (homes for amphibians/reptiles) and the careful selection of additional trees and shrub planting, we will increase habitats for the species that exist on the WCA site and encourage wildlife to spread from our neighbours land (Millennium Green, Strawberry line and local gardens) for the benefit of all.
  • It is clear to the committee our biggest ecological challenge is light spillage and the effect that has on foraging bats along the strawberry line.  Our Architects, by working closely with the Ecologists, have put together a number of site and building design features, which will not only minimise the effects but by including features such as meadow areas provide an actual overall habitat improvement

The conclusions reached on the Surface Water and Sustainable Drainage (SUD) Strategy report were

The WiNSpace Committee have concluded that the strategy is robust since.

  • The strategy does not intend to assume that no external flood water will enter the site but by design, allows it to enter in a controlled manner and via profiling the hardstanding, it is led away from the buildings on to the field
  • Using storm water storage, directing and controlling flood & drainage water on site, the community centre buildings will be flood resilient.
  • By reducing the Community Centre’s dependency on storm sewer capacity, it will assist in the management of storm water in the local area
  • The rainfall volumes used in the analysis far exceed the rainfall quantities that occurred during the 2012 flooding event.
  • The ground on site is assumed to be impermeable. However, the risk could be further reduced if water does soak into the ground under the Carpark and the Wells Close culverts are correctly maintained.
  • Overall the scheme looks to significantly improve the drainage capacity and reduce the flooding risk of the site and local area.

Public Consultation Question and Answers

Questions and Answers from 10 Feb 2021 Public engagement Meeting

To download this as a document please go to the presentation page – Click Here


Prior to the Winscombe Community Centre submitting a planning application to North Somerset Council, a public meeting was held on Zoom attended by 90 individuals from the Parish of Winscombe and Sandford.  At the meeting the Architects (B2 Architects) presented the rationale behind the design of the site, buildings external look and layout.  Also at the meeting members of the WiNSpace subcommittee presented how the buildings could be used, the business plan and the next steps.

If further clarification is required to any of the questions or you would like to ask additional questions please send an email to:  info.winspace@gmail.com.  Don’t forget to keep an eye on our website for design updates.  Names of the individuals have been removed to maintain privacy.

The presentations given at the meeting are now on our website at

Question and Answers

Q1       From  XX  to  Everyone : Will there be electric charging points in the car park?

Yes this can be included in the detailed design phase

Q2       From  XX  to  Everyone : Where will the bike racks be? People will access the centre from the Strawberry Line, so ideally bike racks near there?

Yes a significant amount of space has been allocated for bike racks adjacent to both new and old buildings.  Discussion will be held with the Millennium Green Trustees  and Strawberry line Society to facilitate the best and safest route from the Strawberry Line for Cycles and Pedestrians.

Q3       From  XX  to  Everyone : At this stage, has the cost to hire the rooms been considered to make it available to all?

In the business plan room hire costs have been estimated to provide likely income from users. We hope to keep them consistent with current pricing which is very competitive with other local halls.

Q4      From  XX  to  Everyone : How will young people be encouraged to use the community centre more?

We are in contact with many youth groups in the Parish to hear their view on their requirements.  As we move into the next phase after planning submission we hope to increase this further so we get additional input for the detailed design phase. Ultimately though we only provide the spaces and it is for the community to then use them. We anticipate a space tailored for youth will help

Q5      From  XX  to  Everyone : What security arrangements have been considered regarding the open parking onto the field behind the houses on Sandford Road

For the greencrete carpark we are planning that this is an overflow carpark which will have a barrier to stop regular use and to stop cars using the space outside centre opening times

Q6      From  XX  to  Everyone : where can comments and concerns be logged and who will respond to them?

All communication sent to our email account (info.winspace.org.uk) is saved and logged.  Emails get a response, and concerns are listened to.  Of course it will not be possible to incorporate every suggestion or mitigate every concern. But we do, and will, ensure all comments are considered. Comment will also be possible during the formal planning process.

The Development committee and Trustees have always tried to ensure communication about the development over the last seven years has been as open as possible via the use of our website, social media, email communication, public meetings and stalls at local events. We have also presented to the Parish Council and at our own AGMs.

Q7      From  XX  to  Everyone : Where would the Thursday Morning Market be held?

The plan is for the Thursday market to be held in the New Building taking advantage of the foyer as a meeting place for coffee.  The open space adjacent to the Carpark between the two building can also be used for additional stalls increasing the draw to the Market

Q8      From  XX  to  Everyone : Very pleased about Zero carbon target. Air source or ground source heat pump?

All new technologies and construction methods come with a large upfront cost but we are determined to explore as many as possible and to be aware of the embedded carbon for the building construction (methods and materials) as well as ongoing carbon footprint for usage.  The full specification will be reviewed once we know the cost of the building and the amounts of funds we have raised The Architects are currently assessing the use of

Q9      From  XX  to  Everyone : Does the community centre have charitable status?

Yes we current have two charities registered although we will be moving to the Incorporated Charity very soon, as this is more robust when there are significant financial projects such as Winspace

Q10    From  XX  to  Everyone : Will there be any vegetable or flower gardens created and areas to attract birds etc.?

We hope to create wildlife areas so we enhance the bio-diversity of the WCA land which is currently predominantly a rectangular field.  Examples include planting, not cutting grass in some areas and fitting additional wildlife nesting boxes.  We are working closely with our Ecologists to achieve this.  We would welcome as much community involvement with this as possible and are open to the idea of a community growing spaces if there is demand

Q11    From  XX  to  Everyone : Will there be big screens available?

We shall include this into our list of items for the internal design for consideration

Q12    From  XX to  Everyone : What about the costs of retrofitting and updating the old building?

The estimated cost of part demolition and rebuilding of the old building plus refurbishment has been estimated and is included in our business plan.  However this is only an estimate at this stage and more detailed costing will be obtained later in the project

Q13    From  XX  to  Everyone : Will the youth club be able to keep its snooker table etc in a permanent place if Thursday market also is in old school hall?

The Thursday market should be in the new build, we will need to discuss storage in the old building later in the design process once it is clear who will be using each room and their requirements for storage.  Facilities, including adequate storage for the Youth, are one of our top priorities

Q14    From  XX  to  Everyone : Who will manage and caretake the facility?

The business plan assumes that this will be a mixture of paid employees and volunteers as currently.  If the Centre is used more than anticipated in the business plan, there would be scope for increasing the paid support, for example with a receptionist but this is not something we envisage initially.

Q15    From  XX  to  Everyone : It’s a pity ecologically that the pond will normally be dry .  Could we have a pond for wild-life?-

The swale needs to be a ‘dry pond’ as it is required to store excess drainage water during a flood event.  There is normally a small amount of water at its base but it’s there to provide a function rather than a wildlife refuge.  A pond would be a ‘nice to have’. We do have space for one and agree it would increase bio-diversity.  However we need to understand the possible H&S issues before we design such an item.  It is certainly on the list of possible items for the community to think about for the future.

Q16    From  XX  to  Everyone : When will the ecology report be available please?

The Ecology report will be published once we submit the planning application but we are always happy to talk about the ideas we have and to hear views, to help us get this right.

Q17    From  XX  to  Everyone : Will the hall have a full PA sound system for performance?

It is hoped that we can attract performing art groups to the new centre for which we will need to plan PA and lighting systems.  The Parish always used to have such groups so it would be nice for them to return.

C1 From  XX  to  Everyone : Thank you to all involved for a really informative meeting and for all the time you have given for this exciting project.

C2 From  XX  to  Everyone : Thanks to everyone for your interest, questions and comments. 

C3 From  XX  to  Everyone : Many thanks to all the presenters and the team behind the plans – really exciting and a real beacon of hope and expectation for these times.  Thank you!

C4 From  XX  to  Everyone : Thank you

C5 From  XX  to  Everyone : Thanks for an excellent presentation.. On to the next chapter!

Q18    Reply to a Pre – meeting question about carparking and bio-diversity

The lost green space is a problem when trying to improve the facilities but by positioning the centre where it is and placing the car park effectively where the annexe is (we appreciate the ‘overflow’ is in addition) we probably only lose less than 10% of the green space. Today the carpark is currently always ‘open’ and it’s likely to remain that way but we acknowledge the ‘overflow’ is a further addition which users will be discouraged in using and luckily we haven’t had an issue with joy riders.

Currently North Somerset planning rules determine the number of car spaces we need to provide for a community facility which for the size of both building needs to be 60+ spaces. However we have just gone for 60 (19 of which are in the overflow) in the hope they won’t ask for more. Today we cater for 55 cars which on some days are all full, so we thought 60 was probably the minimum but also the maximum.

The planners wanted us to find a green field outside the village for the community centre however it was clear that the community wanted their centre in the centre of the village, so they could walk and hopefully many will. We are also thinking about community minibus to reduce the number of cars to allow visitor from further afield not to use cars.

We are talking with the Millennium Green group to allow direct access across the green to the centre however this will need additional permissions. We will certainly have lots of bike racks and a ‘clean’ footpath from the Strawberry line where bikes could be pushed from.

We are thinking of ‘banking’ the overflow carpark to reduce noise and light disturbance and stop any risk of cars going onto the field and additional planting along the fence line.

We appreciate noise could be a problem so we have placed the building as far away from the houses as possible with very limited window on the front elevation. We have put the windows toward the bank however we are also having to mitigate disturbance to the bats which fly around the green space and millennium green.

Although we are likely to use up a small amount of green space, we’ve been discussing with an ecology company how to overall improve the bio-diversity of the green space which is currently just a piece of grass. We’re hoping to have ‘meadow’ areas, additional planting, natural hazel fencing bird & bat boxes so we can extend the current local nature reserve.

Q19    What impact the close proximity of the extensive building and its construction works is likely to have on our adjoining site and habitat?   The Millennium Green (MG) is a dedicated site of County Importance for Conservation and is part of the Strawberry Line Local Nature Reserve

We are looking very carefully at the effect of the building and its construction on the Millennium Green and will be working with our ecologist and the MG Trustees to ensure impact is minimised.  We are also looking very carefully at our lighting design to ensure any light spillage doesn’t adversely affect the wildlife and in particular our local bats which use the Strawberry Line.

Q20    We don’t oppose a new community centre, but we would prefer it to be one storey high with a reduced height. We have some concerns about the amount of glass frontage on the plans for the new build because birds could fly into them, hurt themselves or be killed.

To provide a suitable space for indoor sports and performing arts there is a minimum internal height recommended by government which is 6 meters and we would also like to have space to expand to cover future needs.  This leads to the building heights as designed.  For the glass we are working with our ecologists to ensure we keep the impact on wildlife to a minimum.

Q21 Do you need such a large building and rooms

We have looked very carefully at the room numbers and sizes, as part of our business plan assessment, to ensure we will meet all our current users and future users needs.  Actually, the number of ‘bookable’ rooms is remaining the same at 6 but the new rooms will all be more multifunctional, have better floor space / shape and allows for increased usage at the same time (eg by having two buildings and secondary access) and careful design of the layout.

Q22    We also would prefer that the new build does not involve the reduction of any existing green space, by not building on the field for example. We know  it is important that we protect the space we have left in the village. We feel that the new build should be proportionate, in relation to the existing square footage of the site of the old youth club and the porter cabin that hosts the art classes. The other porter cabin will come down but to retain the green space, we prefer that this area is not built on. The cabins have been there for at least 50 years and have asbestos labels on them, so it will be good to see them finally gone.

We have calculated that the loss of green and open space is around 300m2 of the current 9000m2 which the WCA own.  This is about the area of two of the Annexes place side by side.  This is a loss but with careful landscape design and closely working with our Neighbours (The Millennium Green Trust) we will hope to improve not only the look but the bio-diversity.  This could even create more usable green space providing a win-win scenario for nature and parishioners alike.

Q23    I am sure you know that we have a lot of bat activity in the area on the Strawberry Line, Community Centre and Millennium Green. The flight paths will undoubtedly all link up and the wide open space is good for foraging. There is a flight path across the car park, which I have seen, and a one storey building would of course avoid any harm to the bats. We’d love to hear about the results of the bat survey which were completed using the static detectors. I would also be interested to know who has delivered the survey. I ask because I am a member of the Bat Conservation Trust. Will Natural England be consulted because of bat presence?

We are working with our Ecologist on this and is something considered by North Somerset when granting planning permission.

Q24    We would want the old school house to remain as it is one of the oldest buildings in the village and is a historic link to the past.

Our plans allow for the old school building / classrooms to be retained for community use, with a focus for it on the youth and arts.  We propose some of the ‘newer’ extension work on it would be removed to allow better access to the site.  We are also proposing the old headmaster’s house is sold to help fund the cost of the development. Maintaining the headmasters house would be a considerable drain on WCA resources and the accommodation is not suited to our needs.

Q25    What is being done to avoid the flooding that has occurred in the area of the community centre and in particular the area where the new building is being proposed

We are aware that flooding has occurred on the field which has also affected our neighbours.  One of the main sources of this flooding is water running down Wells Close during periods of very heavy rain.  To ensure our new building isn’t affected by flooding or the new building increases any flood risk to our neighbours, we have employed the services of specialist flood risk and drainage engineers.  They are fully aware of the flooding that occurs in Winscombe, particularly in 2012 (there is a North Somerset council report on this) and we have informed them of all the concerns that have been raised during the consultation. They will be providing a drainage/flooding strategy as part of the planning permission application which will be available on the North Somerset Planning Portal when planning is submitted.

Q26    Are the catering and toilet facilities adequate for large functions in the new building

The size of the kitchen is very similar to other large local hall kitchens such as Draycott and Shipham, which are described as ‘catering kitchens’.  When we get into detailed design we will employ the services of professionals to ensure the kitchen design is suitable for large event catering

The number of toilets are in line with current guidelines.  If we have the funding available, we could provide additional toilets on the first floor which would be reached by stairs or lift.

Public Meeting – 10th Feb 2021

As the Architects are soon to submit our Planning Application for the re-development, we wanted to share all the ideas with you before they go to North Somerset Planning Department.

To achieve this we arranged an on-line meeting, using Zoom, on the Wednesday 10th February where 90+ attended. At this meeting the Architects went through the rational for the design and cover items such as site & floor layout (for the new and old buildings), drainage & flood risk mitigation and the proposed external look of the new building.

Also at the meeting the WCA development committee WINSpace talked about the recently issued Business Plan let attendees know how they could help to make this project a success.

We would like to thank everyone who took time to attend the meeting. The presentations given by B2 Architect and the WiNSpace team are available for download below along with a Question and Answer document which hopefully provides answers to the many questions which have been sent in.

Future Extension Plans

As you only do a re-development once we need to get it right first time. One of the unknowns is how much community space is needed in the future. This was why one of our key requirements to our architects was to have space to expand into.

This has been done by creating a large ‘loft space’ in the south wing with space for stairs and a lift in the ground floor. The picture shows how the upstairs space could be laid out with an office / large meetingroom looking over the carpark and an open flexible room which could either be a single space (14m x 10m) or multi area. It could also have additional storage and toilet / shower facilities.

Whether this is fitted out or whether the stair and lift are fitted are very much dependent on the demand for the space and funding to do so.

If you want a closer look at the first floor layout or any of the design plans don’t forget you can download them from here

The Business Plan

To make the WiNSpace Project a success we need to make sure we know why: we want to do it, how we would fund it and ensure we can sustain it ongoing.

In our business plan all these aspects are covered.

It shows the current breakdown on the cost of the build from demolition to placing a roof over our head, the different sources of funding from loans to grants and finally the projected challenge we have once the new centre is up and running.

The business plan comes in two sections; the main section provides all the details whereas the appendix provides much of the background information.

We see the documents very much as ‘live’ documents which will be updated as we move along our journey so we will let you know when new versions are issued.

As always don’t forget to contact us if you have any comments on the content or have ideas how we can obtain additional funding