What things need to go into a community centre?

I’ve just seen some initial plans for a community centre on this development. The plans are simply a draft that invites people to comment and radically change them. What are the essentials that need to go into the design of a community centre?

Here are my thoughts, but I’d welcome suggestions from others:

  • There needs to be an office for the centre management company / administrator to work out of.
  • some changing rooms – the centre will double as changing for some sports pitches next door (but not too many)
  • the plans currently show one hall (size of a badminton court) and one small meeting room and a kitchen. I think we need one hall and two meeting rooms, or one hall and a  larger meeting room that can be divided into two.
  • audio / visual equipment in hall and meeting room
  • the kitchen must be accessible by a hatch into the hall and preferably into one of the meeting rooms as well.
  • The hall should have store cupboards built in for storage of tables, chairs, toddler group toys, badminton net and other equipment.
  • The hall needs to be good for sound (i.e. not too echoey), especially if we want to hire it out to external groups for concerts, or even just an event with a talk. This is especially important for a church.
  • Need to make sure there are baby changing facilities.
  • I personally do not think we need to have a stocked bar. On the occasions when a bar is required, a temporary license can be sought and then you leave the whole of the management of the bar in the hands of whoever is arranging the event.

I think that the key for the centre is  – what do we envision it being used for. As a church i would want to use the main hall and probably two meeting rooms and a kitchen on a sunday morning. Midweek we may want to put on lunches or other events with food. I’m sure that a toddler group would be started, so would need storage for the toys in the hall and a hatch from the kitchen to serve tea and coffee from.

It also might be nice if there was a large opening glass door that could be slid back for summer events which might want a flow between outside and inside.

Is there anything I’ve missed?

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7 Responses to What things need to go into a community centre?

  1. pete says:

    Defibrillator? Maybe not if you’re having youth groups there…
    I think a bar would be a good idea as it enables community events to sell drinks without a lot of hassle for the organisers. Most people
    would like the option of having a drink (either alcoholic or on tap soft drinks) at an event, and it can raise revenue for the centre.

  2. tallandrew says:

    I see what you mean, and it’s a difficult one. A stocked bar makes it easier for the person hiring the hall, but means that the management (which would have to be some sort of local partnership – the council here don’t run them) have extra workload of making sure it is stocked, that the beer doesn’t go off and finding someone to work it…

    Defibrillator – great idea.

  3. David Keen says:

    We have a bar area at our local community centre, it hardly ever gets used. Depends on the area and the culture. Main thing at our local one is childrens parties, uniformed organisations, fetes for various charities, preschool groups, a preschool, and ballet.

    Our was built to accomodate badminton, but when the 4 people who played badminton stopped, it never got used for that again. They just had to spend a 5 figure sum lowering the ceiling. I’d have loved an integrated AV/sound system (with all the kit on a lockable trolley that you plug into the wall – lots of these in schools now)… Meeting rooms outside the hall very useful for different sized groups.

    You don’t mention toilets, unless these are going to be in the changing rooms. Would they need to be separate?

    Notice board and display space in the foyer/entrance hall. You’d also need space for the caretaker, or whoever you’re going to have who runs the place.

    I’ve heard of churches which, through putting in some of the money, have got themselves a vestry/chapel area which can be screened off for meetings, quiet space etc., and then opened out into the main hall for larger gatherings. Also means that a lot of your AV/sound kit can be kept safely in the smaller area.

    Ours also has a fenced off small play area outside, accessible thorugh doors in the side, so that the toddler group can have a run around in the summer.

    You may need vehicle access to some double doors somewhere in the building for offloading large bits of kit, discos, bouncy castles etc.

    integral loop system as part of a sound system.

    Hope that helps, I’m just thinking of all the stuff we currently find useful in our community hall, and all the other things I wish it had!!

    • tallandrew says:

      I like the idea of the locakble trolley for the AV kit.

      There are plenty of toilets on the plans at the moment – a mens, womens and disabled/baby accessible from the inside, some exterior accessible toilets too which will be available outside of opening hours but not overnight (sadly these are a pre-requisite as a lot of the funding for the centre is tied to the fact there will be public toilets!), and there are loos in each of the eight changing rooms and four referees rooms too. I have mentioned that I think 8 changing rooms is too many!

      • David Keen says:

        Our council has a thing about changing rooms as well, based on some national guidance recommending 0.33 square metres per person in new developments, which yields a bizarre figure. Effectively, new communities end up with 6x as much space for changing rooms as they do for community halls. Might be worth challenging this, it doesn’t sound very realistic, though I guess it depends on how many sports pitches the hall is servicing.

  4. Pingback: A new community centre for Upton | diary of a pioneer minister

  5. Pingback: Update on the community centre | diary of a pioneer minister

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