Community Hub

275 Christchurch Rd, West Parley, Ferndown BH22 8SQ

Within the 30 acres of land that West Parley Parish Council owns, are 8 acres of playing fields which are for the provision of sport and recreation. Adjacent to the Playing Fields is a clubhouse, which originally was built by residents to provide facilities in the support of sport. Whilst the Parish Council has remained freeholder, the playing fields were on licence and the clubhouse on a series of leases to Parley Sports Club for the entirety of the Clubhouse being in existence.

It remains the Parish Council’s intention to provide a sustainable community building for residents and affiliated sports sections. The direction which formed the 2021 consultation has since been reviewed as the renovation costs were high and there was increasing concern regarding the level of borrowing required. The main revenue for the Parish Council is through the ‘precept’ which comes from a proportion of residents’ Council Tax. Therefore any need to borrow money, could ultimately place a financial burden on the Parish Council and therefore, its residents. The new direction is for a refurbished community building & we are trying to achieve this without the need to borrow.

Due to the condition in which the building was returned to the Parish Council, it has been resolved to remove the first floor components. Namely the changing rooms, first floor flat and tank room. This will make it easier to replace the entire flat roof and we will be introducing rooflights to lighten the internal rooms. The general layout of the building will remain the same but with some internal modifications to improve the flexibility of use.

December 2023 update

Please find below, a summary of the most recent activities at the premises, which is nestled in the Parish Council’s 30 acres. You may have continued to notice increased activity at the building, as some of the work in recent months has been more visible. But there is plenty happening behind the scenes too and funding opportunities being sought.

The next steps are :

Pitch Improvements

June 19th 2023, a representative of the Dorset FA visited the grounds and undertook an inspection of each of the football pitches. This information is to support the Parish Council in a funding application for pitch improvements as part of the Football Foundation grant scheme. The Football Foundation is the Premier League, the FA & the Government’s charity that helps communities improve their local football facilities through football grants; with a mission to help promote grass roots football.

The initial impression is that the grounds are not in too bad condition but there is a lot of thatch below the grass level. Other issues relate to the drainage and exposed roots. Whilst the last few years of improvements to the grounds means that the pitches are unlikely to qualify for the maximum funding available, we are hopeful to receive some level of funding to help us continue to improve the condition of the playing fields in West Parley.

Potted History of Parley Sports Club

Parley Sports was formed in 1949 when a group of ex-National servicemen and their fathers met at the Horns Inn, West Parley and decided there was a need to establish a sports club in their community. In1960, West Parley Parish Council agreed to the contracts for the 8.3 acres of land and construction of a small clubhouse, which was opened by cricket commentator John Arlott on October 13th 1961. Since then Parley Sports Club has been the sole tenant at the site, and the associated sports teams in football, cricket and more latterly petanque, have enjoyed the facility.

Over the years, the building has been adapted and extended, having some periods of prosperity but at others times experienced economic struggles. All decisions made at the site were done so by the Management Committee of the Sports Club, made up of volunteers and representatives from the various sports sections. Originally, the Management Committee members all had to be West Parley residents. Over the decades, the reliance on volunteers was increasingly more difficult, so the Management Committee chose to ease the restrictions on the locality of Committee members.

In August 2016, a fire on the roof lead to partial destruction of the first floor flat, which was rebuilt and the flat roof repaired through the building insurance in place.

Regrettably, the land and clubhouse were not kept in good repair, and along with contract breaches, meant the Parish Council took the difficult decision to terminate the lease in July 2019. Youth Football, Adult and Youth Cricket and Petanque have all remained at the site, however Adult football took the decision to relocate.

Condition of the Property and Land

The Parish Council commissioned a number of professional reports which painted a very poor picture. 2 separate building surveyors to carry out a full inspection of the building, along with electrical and drainage inspections.

The first Building survey took place in June 2016. At this time, the surveyor was unwilling to complete the inspection and immediately put the Parish Council on Notice of Closure in relation to the clubhouse and flat, on safety grounds. The Parish Council informed Environmental Health and also instructed the tenant of the need to close the premises to the public, but regrettably this was ignored.

The second Building Surveyor undertook an external inspection only in 2017 as the tenant refused internal access. They undertook a full survey in 2019 which highlighted multiple issues, and focused predominantly on the disrepair of the structure of the building. Key concerns included the widely spread leaking roof causing inevitable structural water damage, poor structural repairs, blown windows, unstable walls and poor construction of the first floor flat, to name a few.

In 2019, just prior to taking back possession, the Council commissioned an electrical inspection and their report highlighted numerous areas of concern in the main club house and the Council was issued with an Electrical Danger Notification for the first floor Flat. The tenant was again put on notice for this matter, however chose not to close the premises.

The Council also commissioned a Drainage inspection and the report highlighted many weaknesses which cause the premises to be unable to cope when working at capacity, which resulted in toilets being out of use or effluent overflowing over the exterior path.

The Council arranged for a pitch inspection to be completed by the Dorset FA. On first glance the playing fields may look in good condition, however the report highlighted the well below average condition of the playing fields, with the main concerns being poor drainage, poor coverage and poor general maintenance.

The trees around the perimeter of the playing fields are all subject to Tree Preservation Orders and had been cut on numerous occasions without the permission of the Parish Council as land owner nor the Principal Authority ie the Tree Department at East Dorset District Council.

The Parish Council regained possession of the premises on 30th July 2019 and it was only then the Parish Council could fully understand the exact level of disrepair …. The pictures speak for themselves. Shortly thereafter the Parish Council had no choice but to close the building on the grounds of safety.

Despite the poor condition of the building, requiring it to be closed, the Parish Council worked with the sports sections to enable the uninterrupted continuation of sport for the 2019 season.

2019 Consultation

The Parish Council undertook a consultation of residents in 2019 which highlighted the historic involvement by many residents and the desire to continue to benefit from this community facility. These results show that the Sports Club is the least used Parish Council asset which evidences the perception that many thought it was a private member’s club which they were not permitted to be involved with. Hopefully, if the proposals are approved, once the Community Club re-opens, more residents will benefit from using the facility.

Historic usage shows that more than half of residents have been involved in the club and the Parish Council is keen to make it once again the central hub for the community and this started by changing the name to West Parley Community Hub