Planning News - Autumn 2018

Southborough Hub Presentation

North view from London Road

North view from London Road

On Tuesday, 30th October, a presentation of the revised Southborough Hub plans was given at Southborough Library. Cllr Ian Kinghorn, STC Hub Board member, Malcolm Clarke, Baxalls Construction Managing Director, and James Robson, the architect from HMY, were present. Jonathan White, the KCC Project Manager, was also in attendance to answer queries on the operational side of the project. The architect presented the revised plans.

Clarification was given that, despite the event having been advertised as a presentation, the meeting will form part of the pre-application public consultation. For this reason, there were feedback forms for residents to fill in and return to the comments box in the Library.  

There were approximately forty members of the public in attendance and many issues were raised throughout the hour. As can be seen from the illustrations accompanying this report, the project has been “value engineered” since the previous designs received planning consent, in March 2017. The earlier 'iconic' design for a building, with curved glass entrance, copper roof and polycarbonate exterior, has been replaced with a more geometric, “blocky” design and the footprint slightly reduced, to allow for a larger town square.

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The exterior of the building will now be dressed in terracotta rain-screen cladding and zinc shingle; the building will be assembled as a series of prefabricated wooden frame units off-site, to reduce expenditure and build time.

The Football Pavilion will be a two-storey building, with an adjoining depot for the STC groundsman. The Medical Centre, although still attached to the Hub building, will now be a separate space not accessible through the main Hub foyer. The Hub building will face south, overlooking a small town-square with retail units opposite.

The “value engineering” has reduced the corridor and foyer spaces and the cafe/bar has been removed. The design makes use of shared spaces; a pop-up bar will be situated in the Library, and committee rooms will double up as changing rooms for the theatre.

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The plans show the main Hub building divided into three areas. A medical centre is sited on two floors, with separate access. The main part of the building comprises a community hall, library and retail unit. The hall has a capacity of 350 as a lecture hall, 250 as a theatre with a stage in position. Upstairs are two community rooms/changing rooms and the Library/STC Council Offices. There is a basic kitchenette. Eight unisex toilets are sited on the ground floor and six on the first floor. A lift is to be situated on the left-hand side of the building.

There was a lively discussion following the presentation. Residents raised a number of concerns including the following points:

  • Lack of a separate children's library

  • Lack of a bar/cafe and therefore loss of revenue from potential hirers

  • Kitchenette too small and with no servery or direct access into the hall 

  • Unisex toilets

  • The Theatre's Trust recommendations being ignored

  • Lack of consultation with local user groups

  • Lack of storage space

  • Not enough space for dance groups to change (separated by age and gender)

  • Lack of space for audiences and community to socialise

  • Lack of planning as how the theatre/library spaces will be used concurrently

  • No heart to the building - no central space for the community to congregate

  • Accessibility - the lift being at the back of the building 

  • Lack of air conditioning

  • Loudest area (the theatre) adjacent to the quietest area (the Library)

  • Rather squeezed - not as well laid out as it could have been

After complaints that the deadline to receive feedback was too short it was agreed that comments will now be received up to the time of the planning application in the New Year. Feedback forms are still available from the Library, where the presentation will remain for the next couple of months.

If you would like to view the presentation plans and images, you can see them here.


Since the presentation, the Southborough Hub Working Group has taken on some of the issues raised. Please click on the link here to view the responses to the concerns from the feedback submitted in the Library.