The community project, to refurbish The Mill Centre in the village of Bridge, has now entered a very important phase. The Mill Centre Management Committee (MCMC) has now become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (COI No 1167533) and has reached agreement with Canterbury City Council and Bridge Parish Council for MCMC to be fully responsible for the lease of The Mill Centre.
The main objective of this project is to continue to provide a rural youth facility for uniformed organisations, and other youth organisations, to the south of Canterbury, serving the village of Bridge and the surrounding area. The centre will be run with daytime (mainly adult) activities to produce a revenue stream to allow subsidised youth work in the evenings and weekends. The centre will be run in tandem with the existing Bridge Village Hall which is unable to provide the necessary facilities for many and various groups.
MCMC has already obtained planning consent for the renovation of the entire building, with a new entrance to co-join the two main buildings on the plot and to provide new toilet and circulation facilities. The existing structure has been declared sound by a local structural chartered engineer and by a local surveyor.
It is believed that the total renovation costs will be in the region of £250,000 and this will provide a layout as shown on the attached images. The next phase is to raise the funds so that works can commence in Spring 2018 and be completed by the Autumn 2018.
The application, to the Aviva Community Fund, is for funding to supply and replace the seventeen windows, and two pairs of French doors, at the Mill Centre, which are now over fifty years old.
Windows are an obvious necessity in any building and replacing the existing single-glazed, metal-frame windows with new windows throughout, will not only be aesthetically pleasing and improve the light quality, but will also greatly improve security, giving assurances to the organisations who store their equipment there, and helping to control heating costs. Quotations have been obtained and all are around £10,000.
The Mill Centre is currently used by local groups of Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, and Guides as well as a local Morris Dancing club and as a community gymnasium.
The current catchment area for users is Bridge; Bekesbourne; Canterbury; Chartham Hatch; Kingston; Nackington; Aylesham; Barham and Wingham, and 55% of the current users are from outside Bridge village - from Patrixbourne; Adisham; Chartham; Bishopsbourne; Lower Hardres; Upper Hardres; Pett Bottom; Stelling Minis; Chestfield and Stowting.
The Mill Centre provides facilities that are not available elsewhere in local villages. Some clubs had outgrown the facilities in the Village Hall, others require different facilities i.e. Morris Dancers can bang their staffs on the concrete, and Scouts can hang up their tents to dry.
MCMC has identified that there is a need for facilities for the following organisations:
- An open youth club;
- Brownies and Rainbows;
- Mother and Toddler group;
- Aerobics and other related exercise groups e.g. Pilates etc.
- Cooking classes and other adult classes;
- Film nights and other one off events;
- a second Morris Dancing group - again the plain concrete floor is the main attraction;
- Junior five-a-side football using the rough kick about area in the rumpus room;
- Band Practice;
- Table tennis club;
The catchment area for many of these groups encompasses the wider rural community.
In addition to the existing community gymnasium, links are to be forged with the local medical practice so that exercise and fitness referrals can be dealt with locally.
The Mill Centre is already identified on the Kent County Council schedule as an Emergency Rest Centre, providing accommodation in the event of a major local incident. It will hold the new sand bag store and become a Parish Council emergency communication point.