Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the Foundation looking to redevelop the Hall?
We have managed Britannia Village Hall, and provided community services there, since 2007. The Foundation has long considered the current Hall building unfit for purpose. This is because:
- The poor quality of the existing building: Cheaply built, unwelcoming, hard to heat and improve, the configuration of the spaces make it hard to make best use of the space and provide dedicated space for the nursery. For example we have to limit use of many rooms because of limited access to toilets.
- Changing local facilities: In 2019, in partnership with Ballymore, we took on the management of Royal Wharf Community Dock, providing a wide range of community activities. We are also working in partnership with Royal Wharf Primary School and Oasis Academy Silvertown to make facilities in their new school buildings available to residents in the evenings and at weekends. These will provide state of the art facilities including three large halls. More space will be provided at Silvertown Quays and Thameside West. If we do nothing then the Hall will be left behind and will not be sustainable. For example the main hall is rarely used apart from weekends/evenings and much of this use is likely to move to the new spaces.
- Changing needs of the community: Our survey has shown that many local people would like better local facilities. Many also want to stay in the area, but cannot find the right kind of housing.
We have looked at refurbishment in the past, and have concluded that the best chance of securing our aims is full redevelopment. This is because the costs of making substantial changes to the building (for example to create new entrance areas, a gym or café area and to subdivide the hall) were very expensive and we were still left with a compromised building. We have therefore carefully managed expenditure on the building, knowing that the plan was to redevelop in time.
We want to work with you to build a new community hall that better meets the needs of the community, is more flexible and easier to manage and is a place we can all be proud of for decades to come.
When will the project happen?
We have focused on working with residents, centre users and other stakeholders to develop a preferred project in 2021. We are currently anticipating the submission of a planning application in 2023. If planning permission is granted and following the appointment of a contractor, a start on site could be made in 2024. We currently anticipate the construction programme to be 18 to 24 months. Like any major project, this timeline is uncertain and could change.
If the project goes ahead, what will happen to the existing centre user groups and nursery?
The existing user groups such as Tiny Town, Vibrant Minds and many others are at the core of what the Foundation is about. If redevelopment takes place, then we will work with each group and our partners to seek to find them suitable alternative accommodation in the locality. We will give everyone plenty of notice – aiming for at least 6 months – of when they will need to move.
The GP and pharmacy had already decided to move to Royal Wharf before the Foundation had started to work on this project.
What kind of community spaces are planned and will I be able to hire them?
We will work with the community, users and the architects to explore options. However our experience of running the Hall and the Community Dock means that we know that we need a flexible series of carefully arranged community spaces that can be used and configured in different ways over the course of the weekly programme of activities and users. We will also need good access to toilets, kitchens a proper foyer and some office space. It needs to be welcoming and have a bit of a ‘wow’ factor. Ideally some of the rooms would have access to secure outdoor space. We will be looking at a range of users including space dedicated for the nursery. We are not looking to reprovide a large hall because two new halls will be available at Oasis Silvertown. Rooms will be available for hire including at affordable rates.
Why are we considering soundproofed recording studios as part of the new scheme?
The Foundation has been working closely with young people from the start. Some have expressed that they’d like to see this kind of space in the area to provide creative opportunities that improve skills, confidence, aspiration and inclusion – improving community cohesion. The studios would mainly be for one or two musicians at a time and be fully soundproofed to avoid wider disturbance and also to allow for effective recording to take place. They could also be used for work meetings for those that don’t have space at home. Following our early work, we have found that it will not be feasible to include music recording spaces within the Hall site and are not currently progressing this option. But we are working with our partner – Community Albums – to see if there are other places in the Royal Docks where this important facility might go.
What sort of homes will be built?
We will develop a mix of new homes based on the Housing Needs Survey of local people, planning policy, design work, input from residents and financial viability. It is likely that these will include homes at market sales or rent levels as well as affordable homes such as those for rent or part own/part rent. A key priority of this project is that homes are available to local people.
Why are you looking to build new homes when so many are already being built in the area?
We are looking to build new homes for three reasons:
Nearly half of the local people we surveyed want to move within Britannia Village within the next five years because their current home is too small, is unaffordable or they want to live independently. But many of have said that they feel that most of the new homes that are being built in the area are not accessible to them. The type and size of homes will be developed to specifically meet local needs unlike many of the other schemes locally which are based on a Housing Needs Survey covering all of Northeast London. Of those people responding to our survey, the biggest group said that they would welcome a small development of homes at West Silvertown for local people. A further one in three said that their support would depend on the type and nature of the housing. As a community organisation we want to support our community to stay in the area.
Also our borough – Newham - is in the midst of a major housing crisis with a lack of homes particularly for those who cannot afford full market sales values and rents. Alongside thousands of people on waiting lists and in temporary accommodation, key workers such as teachers simply can’t afford to live in our community. Part of having a sustainable community is having a good mix of different homes which we can provide on our land.
Lastly the investment in the new community provision will need to be funded. Although we will maximise income through grants and fundraising, there will be a difference between what we can realistically raise and the cost of the new facilities. Sales income from some of the new homes will be needed to help us to bridge this gap.
What about design quality and sustainability?
Any new development will be very well designed, easy to maintain and will at least meet London Housing Design Guide standards. It will be designed to work with the surrounding area.
Sustainability measures will be incorporated to achieve a low carbon building, aiming towards zero carbon. We will develop a building strategy that will consider including low carbon technologies such as air-source heat pumps, highly efficient building fabric, ventilation with heat recovery and solar panels.
Why is the playground next to the Hall not used and what are the plans for any future play facilities?
In 2008 East Thames Homes (now L&Q) worked with the community to develop a plan which included relocating the play area to the Green. We agree that the best place for a public young children’s play area is at Britannia Village Green as this is easiest to access and is well overlooked by surrounding homes.
When the playground at BV Hall came into disrepair in 2015 we chose not repair it due to the large capital cost and we had always intended to get a proper play space on the Green. East Thames have since been taken over by L&Q and we have restarted conversations about this project and have secured £20,000 from Newham Council to bring forward some quick wins and a better new design including play facilities.
Please get in touch if you have ideas or want to get involved!
As part of the redevelopment, we will create attractive new outdoor areas for children and adults to use, including outdoor space for the nursery.
Will there be jobs for local people?
Yes! In addition to our normal activity, we will ensure that jobs are provided for local people, both in the construction phase of development and, where appropriate, by the end-users. This approach will be agreed with Newham Council.
Who will pay for the project?
We expect the project will cost in the region of £15m but this could change depending the design. This will be funded by a mixture of grants, fundraising and sales of some of the new homes. We have set aside additional reserves to help to fund the redevelopment project.
Is this just a money-making project for the Foundation?
The project is not expected to make a surplus. We will need to sell some homes to fund new community space and to deliver affordable housing to benefit local people in West Silvertown.
What about the contribution to the Foundation that I make through my service charge?
West Silvertown Foundation is grateful for the contribution it receives each year from Britannia Village General Management Company (BVG). This is not ringfenced but is invested alongside grants and income from room hire to pay for your vital community activities as well as keeping the building going. We expect the current arrangement to continue.
We expect that in any new development there will be less money spent on building maintenance and heating and more spent on community services, so that you will see more benefit from this contribution.
We have improved the reporting of how this money is spent to the BVG Board and also updating the wider community on our work. For our 2020 Impact Assessment please click here and for the 2021 Impact Assessment click here.
How will parking work?
We will develop a high-quality design that will complement surrounding homes and minimise the parking impact of the new Hall. We are expecting to provide very limited spaces for those working in the new centre who need to drive and disabled visitors as well as a drop-off/pick-up point for those who need to arrive in a car or for loading.
We will make the building attractive for use for cyclists and other non-car users by providing secure cycle parking and shower facilities. This will be informed by a proper assessment of the current situation. We will encourage our staff and users to make healthy travel choices wherever possible.
New homes are likely to be car free. This would mean that other than those living in disabled adapted homes, residents would not be able to receive a residents parking permit from the Council. This would be included in the terms of their leases. We will closely with Newham Council to ensure that parking is appropriately managed.
How will you manage the impact of construction on neighbours?
Before we proceed, we will develop a detailed construction management plan to minimise impact on our neighbours. This will include details of the working hours at the site, the proposed access arrangements for the construction lorries, and how noise and dust will be controlled. We will talk with all those affected before this finalised so we can get your input. This will need to be approved by Newham Council before construction starts.
We are committed to regular and transparent communications with all our neighbours throughout the project.
How can I apply to buy or rent one of the new homes?
We are keen to hear from anyone looking to move within West Silvertown. Please get in touch with us and we will keep you updated about opportunities.
Who will be the landlord of the new homes?
No decisions have been made yet. This will depend on the tenure of the new homes and whether there is a local desire to establish a Community Land Trust. In any scenarios we want this to be a community-led project where local people will be heavily involved in the project at all stages.
Who will deliver the project?
We are at a very early stage in the process, so haven’t decided the best way forward. The Foundation is committed to retaining control of the project and maximising community benefit at each stage.
Is this project definitely going to happen?
Given the condition of the current Village Hall, doing nothing is not an option. Our board is committed to securing a better long-term provision for the community and at the present time we remain confident that the project will proceed. However with a major and complex project, there are a number of important hurdles to overcome. It will need to best meet community needs as well as be financially viable. We will need to get planning consent and agreement from the GLA and other interest. We will keep you informed throughout.
How are decisions going to be made?
The Foundation is committed to a genuine co-design process with the local community and stakeholders throughout the project. This will mean that there is a real ability for local people to shape the plans. For more details please see our Community Participation page. Our board will make the ultimate decisions on whether and how to proceed to planning with Newham Council.
How can get involved or find out more?
Please see our main web page for this project
You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further queries.