Newburgh Village Public Hall has served the community well over its 130 year existence, but in the last few years had been showing increasing signs of tiredness and disrepair. Cold, draughty and expensive to run, it was only the lack of a more suitable alternative venue that kept the numerous community groups using it. A refurbishment was well overdue to address the issues of accessibility, energy efficiency, comfort and functionality, and in 2017 plans to do this started to be put in place.
The new Hall Committee secured funding to employ an architect to begin the refurbishment process. Local architect and resident of the village Neil Strachan from DMA Architects, was appointed and in consultation with hall users and the local community, ideas were presented and feedback gathered to help inform the design proposals – the main aspirations identified were: –
- Making the building more physically accessible and inviting to everyone
- Making the spaces more functional to suit as wide a range of users as possible
- Making the hall a more comfortable environment and more energy efficient
- Improving the standard of the facilities including toilets, kitchen, heating and lighting
- Ensuring there is sufficient storage for all activities that take place
The design was agreed, planning permission and building warrant were secured, then the hard part really began – raising the funding needed to be able to deliver the vision!
A great deal of time and effort was put in by the Hall Committee to fundraise locally and secure external funding. With advice from The Formartine Partnership and through the process of applying to different funds – and being rejected! – a few times, we finally began to have some success in 2020. The full cost was going to be around £220K and this was too much to raise in one go, so we decided to phase the project to make it more manageable. As soon as we did this, we began receiving offers of money from the Robertson Trust (£9K), Developer Obligations Funding (£73K) and the Vattenfall Unlock Your Future Fund (£13K) – which, along with funds raised locally (£20K), was enough to be able to begin a first phase of works in September 2020. Then during these works came the exciting news that the Committee had been successful in securing £100K funding from the Scottish Government’s Community Climate Asset Fund (the maximum given to any project from over 300 projects funded throughout Scotland) – enough to complete the rest of the refurbishment!
This funding was specifically to reduce the carbon footprint of the hall, and consisted of four main elements:-
- Insulating the building fabric
- New LED lighting
- Upgrading the windows
- General building works (including the reconfiguration of the kitchen/small hall and installation of rooflights to provide more daylight)
The timing of these works could not have been better as given the global pandemic, the hall was closed for use. It also ensured that our small local contractor, M&G Smith Joiners, and the sub-trades they employ, secured work in what was an uncertain time economically – even allowing them to take on a new apprentice joiner. What has been achieved is the complete refurbishment of the hall to safeguard its future and create a much more functional, inviting, comfortable and energy efficient building to act as a hub for the community.
Energy efficiency was always a core value of the Hall renovation project but throughout the process of looking for funding, the issue of addressing climate change by reducing our carbon footprint became even more important. In our relationships with the Vattenfall Unlock Your Future Fund and the Scottish Government Climate Challenge Fund, we realised the potential of our project to raise awareness of these issues locally and become an example of best practice further afield of how to refurbish an old building in as energy efficient a way as possible using the most up-to-date technologies.
Creation of the ACE (Action for Climate & Environment) Newburgh Group
As a by-product of the refurbishment, the ‘ACE Newburgh Group’ has been established whose main aim is to promote carbon reduction measures locally. Some projects the group is actively working on now include 2 x paths linking Ellon to Newburgh, planting a Wee Forest, an educational programme of talks on climate issues and ways we can all reduce our carbon footprint, producing a booklet of walks that can be done from Newburgh.
We hope our newly upgraded energy efficient Village Hall will act as the perfect hub for these activities and can hopefully provide some inspiration for us all as a community to address climate change in our own small way.
And if you are interested in joining ACE Newburgh or want more information about climate change issues locally, please contact them through their Facebook page or email Kate at email@example.com
We have also been successful in securing a further £15k funding from the Vattenfall Unlock Your Future Fund to purchase and install solar pv panels and battery storage for the hall! This will mean we should be able to generate and store enough energy to power the hall for all our daily and evening activities, making the hall pretty much self-sufficient. This is an amazing achievement for such an old building and our hall will be inspiration to others as an example of best practice for how to renovate an old building in as sustainable a way as possible. The panels & batteries have been installed and as of October 2022 we are just waiting for the contractor to commission them. We will update when this project is complete and will monitor and share how our energy costs change with this improvement.
Thanks for all your support throughout the renovation!
The Hall Committee