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Vicar breaks new ground for Cullompton

PUBLISHED: 10:50 08 December 2010 | UPDATED: 18:16 20 February 2013

Andrew Southall (Churchwarden), Rev Edward Hobbs (Vicar) and Simon Friend (Project Manager)

Andrew Southall (Churchwarden), Rev Edward Hobbs (Vicar) and Simon Friend (Project Manager)

A Vicar from Cullompton was breaking new ground - literally - when he took to the controls of a JCB to help start the next stage of the construction of a community centre in the town.

A Vicar from Cullompton was breaking new ground literally when he took to the controls of a JCB to help start the next stage of the construction of a community centre in the town.

Reverend Edward Hobbs of St Andrews Church climbed into the JCB to take the first scoop of earth towards digging the foundations for the 1.5 million centre. The building will provide a variety of much-needed facilities and services for people in and around the town and is a key part of its regeneration.

With its contemporary sweeping curved roofs and glazed walls, the new centre will be a landmark building for Cullompton. It will be built next to the Grade 1 listed St Andrews Church.

In November, the two existing church halls were demolished to make way for the 9,250 sq ft multipurpose centre which will be designed with flexibility and sustainability in mind. When complete, it will include small meeting rooms, office space and a venue where conferences, concerts and productions can be put on with a seating capacity of up to 180 people. It will be fully equipped with audio/visual technology, kitchens, lift and loos with hot and cold water something the current halls do not provide. There will be an entrance hub area where people can drop in during the week and browse at a bookstall, relax and have a coffee. Local groups and organisations will also be able to hire rooms.

The centres sustainable design includes making it fully accessible to people with disabilities something that the current halls dont do. Using the latest construction technologies, the carbon footprint will be cut by 85% compared to equivalent use of the existing halls.

The building work has been made possible after St Andrews Church received a grant of 700,000 from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). The RDPE grant - the largest given to a community organisation to date followed a grant from Devon County Council for 250,000, a grant from Uffculme Environmental Ltd (in partnership with Viridor Credits Environmental Company) for 31,365 and 341,000 raised by the church itself. Successful application for RDPE funding followed consultation with local businesses, communities and individuals.

Following a competitive tender, regional contractor, Pollard, was appointed to carry out the work, which is expected to be completed by September 2011. The company has undertaken numerous community projects throughout the South West and recently began work on a community centre in Sidmouth for Devon County Council.

As a regional contractor we fully appreciate the value of these community facilities and how they enhance peoples lives, said Bill Badham, Managing Director of Pollard.

We are delighted to have now reached this stage, with this ceremony marking a key moment in starting to make the vision a reality.

For Reverend Hobbs, the new centre construction is an exciting project which will make a real difference to the lives of communities and individuals in and around Cullompton.

We are really looking forward to welcoming everyone. This gives us a great opportunity to expand our programme of community engagement and services to the people of Cullompton and beyond, he said.


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