The Village Hall Committee of Metfield believes a major void left by the closure of the local pub will be filled when the Community Hub project is completed early next year.
Building works on a major extension and refurbishments for the Village Hall in St Johns Meadow have begun, financed by a £271,082 grant from the Big Lottery Fund that was awarded last December.
The works will add two lounges, a bar, a commercial kitchen and a store, and revitalise the existing facilities, with the aim of creating the kind of hub once provided by the Duke William, which closed as a pub several years ago, leaving the village with no public house.
Lorraine McEvoy, the chair of the Metfield Village Hall Committee, said it had been “a long road” to reach this stage, and it was “fantastic” to see the work underway.
She told the Diss Express: “We think the social impact will be huge.
“Not having a pub any more had a huge impact. It did create rural isolation. If you weren’t part of the little groups in the village but you did like to go for a drink, that was really lost.”
Targeting completion by early spring 2017, the works are being carried out by building contractors Draper and Nichols, architectural firm Richard Pike Associates and Oxbury Chartered Surveyors, the managers of the project.
The village hall committee confirmed that, as well as the Big Lottery Fund, which offered the bulk of the funding, the hub project also secured £2,000 from Suffolk County Council’s Locality Budget, to help pay for equipment and furnishings, and it had obtained money to install a defibrillator.
The committee outlined a five-year business plan for the community hub, with goals to launch a volunteer-run drop-in cafe and bar, encourage small businesses to provide catering and hospitality services, and open up the facilities for private functions, including weddings and parties.
Ms McEvoy stated the committee had “big ideas” to benefit residents young and old, such as a group for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, sessions that teach how to use the internet, and an expansion for the existing lunch club, which offers isolated people meals and an opportunity to socialise.
She added: “We have researched lots of village halls. We have had lots of help from the Pennoyer Centre and Laxfield Village Hall.
“So many people helped us to see what worked for them and also what didn’t work for them.”
To follow the progress of the Metfield Community Hub in the coming months, you can visit the Village Hall’s Facebook page by going to www.facebook.com/metfieldvh