The Town Council expects to receive planning permission shortly for the long-awaited Community Café in Victoria Park. In order to meet the construction costs of the Café, the Council proposes to raise a Public Works loan of up to £300,000.
The Community Cafe is estimated to cost from between £400,000 to £450,000, of which £150,000 will be provided from the Council’s reserves and accumulated Community Infrastructure Levies. The balance of the funding will be provided through a loan from the Public Works Loan Board. This UK government provides long-term funding to local councils at favourable and guaranteed static rates.
The Council aims to achieve a rental income which would be sufficient to cover loan charges and the ongoing maintenance costs of the new building. Any shortfall in these amounts would be met from projected Community Infrastructure Levies, so that this facility should have no impact on the town’s Council taxpayers or the precept.
The Leader of the Council, Cllr Martin Colston, said that the Council is very excited about the prospects of progressing this project, “Victoria Park is ‘The Jewel in the Crown of Newbury Town Council’. The provision of a new community café in the Park has been the number one priority of this Council for the past 10 years. Since the Town Council was established in 1997, we have continually improved and expanded the leisure and recreation facilities available to the community in Victoria Park.
This includes the Skatepark, the Splash Park, the outdoor gym, the children’s playground and the much-improved tennis courts and floodlighting for the courts. The Bowls Club in Victoria Park and its surrounds have also been enhanced. In recent years, the Park has been awarded Green Flag status, recognising the high quality of the park and its facilities”.
He continued, “In the Interim, the Parkway Development & other residential developments have been built around the Park, making this the central open space for these residents. The Park is also an important part of the Council’s active travel routes, especially for cyclists and pedestrians going from east of the A339 to the town centre.
The Community Café is intended to operate all year round making it a community hub and focal point in the Park. We believe that the community deserves a quality Café facility at the heart of the Park to complement the wide range of leisure and recreation facilities which it provides. I am hopeful that the public will agree with us, and we are now seeking your views.”
Cllr Roger Hunneman chairs the Subcommittee managing the project and he said, “The Community Cafe has been designed to meet the highest environmental standards, to target BREEAM excellent and minimise carbon emissions. The footprint has been kept to the current kiosk and former air raid shelter to minimise the loss of green space in the Park. New planting will hide as much of the raised build area which forms the disabled access ramp and void required by the Environment Agency for the flood alleviation works. The plans include toilets with male, female and disabled access together with baby and adult changing facilities as well as a small storage space for the tennis facility in Victoria Park along with a separate bin & chair store for the Bandstand chairs. It will also house the infrastructure for the Council’s CCTV coverage of Victoria Park, new enhanced lighting around the Café, thereby enhancing public safety in the Park and deterring anti-social or criminal behaviour.
He continued, “I am very pleased that we have received a lot of interest from operators wishing to run the new Café and when deciding on the successful operator the Council will have regard to the inclusivity of the proposals and the arrangements to encourage community involvement. The Council aims to achieve a rental income which would be sufficient to cover loan charges and the ongoing maintenance costs of the new building. Any shortfall in these amounts would be met from projected Community Infrastructure Levies, so that this facility should have no impact on the town’s Council taxpayers or the precept.”