New £2m Portchester community centre to go ahead as it gets public backing

PLAN An artist's impression of the new �2m community centre proposed for Portchester
PLAN An artist's impression of the new �2m community centre proposed for Portchester
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PLANS for a new £2million community centre are set to be finalised after getting the seal of approval from the people who will use it.

More than 200 people attended a recent public consultation and exhibition at the current community centre so they could see the proposals and have their say.

And of the 151 people who filled out a response form, 127, or 84 per cent, said they liked the outside of the proposed building. This dropped to 81, or 53 per cent in favour when talking about the inside layout.

The steering committee overseeing the proposals for the new Portchester Community Centre has now agreed the plans, paving the way for the development to go ahead.

Councillor Connie Hockley, in charge of community and leisure matters at Freham Borough Council, said: ‘There were some minor changes, but the plans have now been approved. Some of the changes were suggested by members, some by trustees and some by members of the public following the public consultation. We went through everything that was said.

‘We’ve agreed to stick to the proposed timetable, so hopefully next September we will be able to open a brand new community centre.

‘A huge percentage liked the design and the position of it. The majority of people were very positive.

‘You can’t please everyone but we did take a lot of care over this.’

Cllr Hockley added: ‘Hopefully it will go before August’s planning committee meeting where it will be subject to the normal planning procedures.’

Portchester councillor Roger Price voted against taking the plans forward as he wanted more time to make extra changes.

Cllr Price said: ‘I have no problem at all with the design of the building and I agree with it being on a single floor. The main issue I have is that it’s just not big enough. The community association was promised 900 square metres as an absolute minimum but the present plan is only 830 square metres.

‘They need that space or otherwise it’s not going to work. The council doesn’t seem to have got its head around the fact that it’s not just a children’s centre, it’s not just a community centre or a nursery – it needs to be all three. Yes, a lot of people were in favour of the design at the consultation, but there were also a lot of comments about the size which I don’t think have been taken onboard.’