Refurbishment Plans Update Jan 2024
The Town Council is excited to confirm that Phase II of the development of the Wades Centre has now been completed. This phase included the addition of a reception area, new offices for the Town Council, refurbishment of the Wades Centre restroom facilities and installation of solar panels.
The Town Council appointed local commercial contractors Ben E Morgan Building Ltd to undertake the extension and renovation works, which have been designed by local architects Morgan Architectural Designs.
History of the Refurbishment Plan
For the last ten years, the Town Council office has been situated in the Princes Centre off of Clifford Road where it played a major role in securing the building to allow for the continuation of daycare provisions for the elderly and adults with learning disabilities. The Centre has since grown to become a highly successful organisation winning many awards. Their success has meant that they now require the office space that the Town Council occupy and regrettably have given notice to the Town Council that the lease will end in December 2023.
The Town Council has been aware that this may happen and has therefore been actively looking for alternative premises close to the centre of Princes Risborough for the past two years. Despite being on commercial lettings agents’ mailing lists, no appropriate space has become available and an alternative solution needs to be found.
During Phase 2 of the Wades Centre refurbishment, the architect has been able to incorporate the insertion of an office space into the plans which would utilise the old changing rooms area and require only a small extension. This transformation would enable a reception desk to be fitted allowing our team to better assist with enquiries for current and prospective customers. Previous requests from service users have highlighted a demand and need for daily staff presence at the Wades Centre, including a reception desk to ensure that all service users are safe and cared for whilst onsite. This would also provide a more accessible, responsive, and user-friendly service for our many users as we understand many have struggled with the current access arrangements. Improved toilet facilities were identified as a major priority by over 90% of the residents that took part in a previous consultation (2019).
Phase 1 has met the need for additional space for functions and the proposed plans laid out in this article meet the remaining needs as an addition to existing facilities. The main hall will remain unaltered with a kitchen that is directly accessible. Toilet facilities will be upgraded to service the Sports Hall, Cherry Baker Room, and the Carrington Room. The cost of the Phase 2 refurbishment is £376,436,00.
To progress this Phase 2 refurbishment, a new loan would need to be secured from the Public Works Loan Board for £350,000 over 25 years. The annual loan repayments would be £23,343. The remaining balance will be met from existing council funds. The rent payable for our current office space during 2023 is £12,000 p.a. This solution would mean that the office would be able to remain at the Wades Centre in perpetuity, reducing the costs to the taxpayer of paying an annual rent indefinitely and the drainage system and toilets would receive a much-needed upgrade. Keeping the Town Council office in the town will enable the Town Council to continue serving the residents of Princes Risborough in person rather than just remotely by e-mail or telephone. This will ensure accessibility and inclusion for all members of our community, especially residents that are unable to access a computer or travel outside of the parish. The important question is how much extra will it cost the taxpayer? The answer is nothing. Council tax will not be increased to repay the loan as annual repayments will cost less than the current rental costs for the premises the Town Council occupies. Future Plans for the Wades Centre following the Phase 2 refurbishment programme include installing solar panels to the newly extended roof, an internal passageway connecting the new entrance and toilets with the Carrington room and a Changing Places Toilet. Cllr Andy Shipley has written an article explaining the need for a Changing Places Toilet, this can be found by clicking here.
An internal connecting passageway between the Carrington room, main entrance, and toilets has been requested on many occasions. Please see
the following comments that have been made by regular hirers:
“in the rain and cold winter times, it is not pleasant to have to go via the outside of the building and
also we are unable to monitor who enters or leaves the building through the unsecured at the main entrance doors”
“I think the minimum requirement is access to a
disabled toilet from the Carrington room which does not require having to leave the building by the Carrington entrance and re-enter via the main
entrance. It is less than ideal for anyone during the winter months to have to walk outside to access the toilets. It is absolutely not appropriate for anyone
with mobility issues”.
The new reception area in Phase 2 will enable the internal passageway to connect the Carrington room and the toilets including access to all for the Changing Places Toilet in Phase 3 of the refurbishment programme. The Town Council will be undertaking a planning and feasibility study to assess the technical and financial viability of a project to install solar panels on the current and extended roof of the Wades Centre. It is likely we can get a government grant to fund a feasibility and planning study. We would like to invite the residents of Princes Risborough to share their views on the future plans for the Wades Centre. An open day and evening are planned for the 13th October between 10am -12pm, 18th October 2pm-4pm and 6.30pm - 8pm in the Cherry Baker room allowing residents to drop in and see the plans for Phase 2 and 3 of the refurbishment, ask any questions and give us their feedback.