Key groups and organisations from across the parish were represented at a meeting in January hosted by the Parish Council to discuss the possibility of developing a new multi-use community centre for the village.
The meeting started with a presentation (see attached pdf) highlighting current local issues and impact of the recent Localism Act. At a time when the village is likely to grow significantly from the many new developments, Gnosall is also unfortunately facing the loss of a number of well-used facilities. These changes emphasise the impact that Localism is starting to have on villages throughout the country. In short, rural communities such as ours will have more influence to shape and administer our local area, but in turn we will also be expected to develop and maintain more of our own facilities & services.
The presentation covered the limitations facing the current Grosvenor Centre and other village halls. Feedback was also provided on a recent visit by parish councillors to the Madeley Centre - a purpose-built community development near Newcastle under Lyme. This centre serves a village the same size as Gnosall and is run by an independent local-community Trust. This group planned the project, raised the £3 million needed to build the centre and now oversees its management. The Centre provides an inspirational example of how a community can be galvanised to come together to develop a successful and vibrant hub for the whole village.
The presentation finished by emphasising why now is the ideal time to reassess the future needs of the parish. The community can carry on and make the best of what facilities we already have or perhaps look to revamp the existing community halls and centres. Alternatively, we could concentrate all our efforts to develop a new multi-use community centre to act as a hub for the whole village and surrounding area.
The subsequent discussion provided a mixed response to the proposals. There were a number of people concerned about local apathy and fears the project might be over-ambitious. There was also anxiety about the possible negative impact on other community halls such as the Memorial Village Hall and Methodist rooms, and we should concentrate on those existing facilities rather than develop a new purpose-built hub. Cllr Mike Deegan reiterated that a new centre would not duplicate or compete with any existing amenities or services already provided in the village.
A number of those present welcomed the idea for a new centre and the opportunities it would create for a greater range of leisure and learning facilities. Cllr Mark Winnington said that Staffs County Council would help with such a project wherever possible, whilst support has already been offered by Stafford Borough Council.
No decisions have yet been made, though it was suggested an audit could be carried out to determine all the amenities available within the village (including their usage, type of activities, clubs/groups that use these facilities). The venture is still at an early stage and the Parish Council will continue to consult with local groups & stakeholders. Any updates will be provided here on the Parish Council website.