As agreed at the last PC meeting a working group of councillors met on 7.2.22 to consider the feedback from the community on the drawings and quote for the proposed shelter on the Common. 250 consultation forms were distributed and 36 returned, covering 86 individuals and 32 households . (There are 126 households in the parish, of which 60 are in the village).
Overall we noted strong support for the erection of a building as such (as was the case for the original survey made in 2019). However, 16% of responding households considered this proposal too elaborate and too expensive for its purposes ,while a further 38% said they believed the main need was for a village hall , mentioning covered space, large enough for wedding parties, including toilets etc.
Five of the current cllrs remember two previous occasions on which a parish hall project was launched, considered in detail and not continued with on the grounds that there was insufficient demand to maintain one. The newer cllrs believed that the situation would not have changed. All were familiar with financial problems reported by other halls in the area, eg Cruwys Morchard and Bishops Nympton. It was also agreed that there is no suitable site for a hall in the village (halls require substantial parking provision, which rules out the Common and also the field adjoining as both must remain largely green space ). The nearest potential site might be at the Rackenford Club, but this involves access by an unlit road.
However, it was pointed out that since there seems no current prospect of The Stag hall returning to community use, there is nowhere to meet in Rackenford except at the School, not available during school hours. With three new houses in the village and the probability of a few more, there is a new element of community need for some space at least on a small scale. Pre –pandemic both the Shop and the Church were considering changes to meet this which might not involve any significant running costs. The Shop committee had planned an extension westwards to provide a larger sales space and a sitting out area, turning the original Church room into a coffee/committee room. Fred Phillips said he would be happy to donate a strip of his field for this purpose. He was warmly thanked, and an agreement will be pursued. Sarah said that community use of the Church would be easier to develop in co-operation with both the Shop and the PC, and a step towards this was to revive a proposal to cut steps from the churchyard into the road approaching the Shop, making access to Shop toilets relatively easy. A drawing of this will be procured for discussion.
In summary the group agreed to recommend to the next PC meeting that in the light of the public response they should
Reduce the size and simplify the design for the proposed shelter before applying for funding
Support a village room proposal in co-operation with the Shop and the Church