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Logie Coldstone Village Hall, Aberdeenshire

Logie Coldstone Village Hall, Aberdeenshire

This project has provided the community with a refurbished, warm and comfortable community hall. The process of delivering the project has served to strengthen community ties and create a more resilient rural community.

 

Overview

Logie Coldstone is a small settlement in rural Aberdeenshire, with around 227 houses in the Logie Coldstone polling district. The granite village hall was built in 1897 and the timber small hall extension was added in the 1950s. There was a minor refurbishment to the hall in 1987 to update the toilets and kitchen and renew the main hall floor.

The hall was in various states of disrepair and several solutions for upgrade were proposed until, in 2011 when the hall ceiling collapsed and the decision had to be made whether to upgrade the hall or close it. 

This case study is as much about resilience in a small rural community, as it is about the upgrade, and the project has served to raise issues of energy efficiency through the small rural community.

Approach

The committee successfully applied for funding which was provided by The Robertson Trust, the Climate Challenge Fund and Aberdeenshire Council. The local community in Logie Coldstone raised 5% of the funding some of which was in-kind. The funding provided by the Climate Challenge Fund was to specifically fund energy and carbon saving measures.

The Architect was appointed to administer the construction contract from design to completion working in conjunction with a structural engineer and a quantity surveyor. The Energy Savings Trust carried out an energy audit in June 2012 and reiterated recommendations for air source heat pumps and increased insulation. An asbestos survey was also carried out on the hall, which found several small areas of asbestos in fixtures and fittings, but the handling of these didn’t have any impact on the schedule.

In November 2012 a bat survey was conducted which found evidence of long-eared brown bats roosting in the roof space. As bats are a protected species work can only be carried out during the annual migration. The work was scheduled to begin in March 2013, but the evidence of bats could have necessitated a further emergence survey and a license sought from Scottish Natural Heritage. Due to the location of the bats this was not required but work to the roof was prohibited between April and November. As a result it was key that work start on site in as early as possible in March and work to the roof be completed by April, and so the Trust worked to a tight timescale to get through the tender process and finalise funding. If the refurbishment had been delayed to November the works could not have been completed by the deadline of March 2014 and funding from LEADER would have been jeapordised.

The air source heat pump and associated services were specified by Environmental Heating Solutions. The Trust opted for a system which was ducted from the main hall ceiling to keep the hall walls free of equipment, this had the added benefit of allowing for warm air to be circulated in the first floor meeting room.

The project started on site in March 2013 and largely kept to timescale until delays towards the end of the programme which were caused by the discovery of a lead water pipe and delivery delays. The following work was carried out:

  • 120mm of insulation fitted internally to walls and in the roof space.
  • New plasterboard fitted throughout.
  • Replacement of all windows
  • Repairs to the existing roof, including replacement of all timber barge boards.
  • Existing timber floor sanded and resealed and new wood paneling up to window level in main hall.
  • New fixtures and fittings to kitchens and toilets, new energy efficient lighting.
  • The routing of services behind new impact resilient plasterboard walls in the main hall to allow for ball games to be played.
  • Removal of the stage and replacement with insulated floor.
  • Fitted Air source heat pump.
  • New electric panel heaters in areas not served by the air source heat pump (foyer, toilets and kitchen). 

Performance

The refurbished Logie Coldstone hall provides a valuable and attractive meeting space for the small rural community. Since the refurbishment the hall has been used more frequently and for a wider range of activities, including those with the aim of increasing energy awareness throughout the community.The work to improve the thermal performance of the hall has been very successful and the Trust has calculated a large reduction in CO2 emissions.

The energy use and heating costs are being monitored in the hall and the Trust aim to reflect on these to ascertain the optimum settings for heating the hall for different purposes. They aim to make an assessment on energy use following one year of occupation. As per the recommendations for the heating system, the Air Source Heat Pumps are on constantly, with the thermostat set at 16O, the temperature is raised for several events.

There is a visitors’ book in the hall and the Trust has received many positive comments. Feedback has indicated that the space is now warm, bright and inviting. Hall users have commented on the incomparable comfort level the air source heat pumps and added insulation have offered.

One small issue that has emerged is that care was taken to use impact resilient plasterboard in the main hall, so that ball games could be played, however they later decided to install wall lights which, unfortunately have been broken. In hindsight the Trust agrees that research into more resilient light fittings should have been undertaken.

The heating bills for the first quarter have been higher then expected, it is believed that this was due to the electric panel heaters (in areas not served by the air source heat pump) set higher then necessary this has now been rectified. Members of the Logie Coldstone Trust have been trained in the basic maintenance of the air source heat pumps. 

Lessons

Logie Coldstone Trust makes several recommendations for other communities considering taking on a similar project: make sure the legal structure of your organisation is appropriate; assess whether or not the community is ready for the project.

• establish a resilient committee that is prepared to meet as often as fortnightly during the project, and a core group of 2-4 people available to make day-to-day decisions; do plenty of research before beginning and take plenty time for this - after the public meeting in January 2004, the committee envisaged having the main hall refurbished and the small hall rebuilt in 6 months - but it took nearly 10 years to get the main hall completed! Allow for the cost of all professional fees in the project budget - Logie Coldstone ended up using the following professional services in addition to the architect: structural engineer; quantity surveyor; bat survey; asbestos survey; CDM coordinator.

• engage with the community to ‘take ownership’ of the project and input their views on their needs - the following were incorporated into the proposals: a warm and economically heated building; a hearing loop in the main hall; a light, bright foyer with room for community information to be displayed; portable staging; a landscaped seating area; a wheelchair accessible toilet with a baby changing area.

• Never underestimate the power of community cooperation and what it can achieve; improve communication in the community by whatever means: newsletter / website, social media, simple events for folk to come to and get to know each other - all of this helps to build the capacity of a community to undertake such projects - communities need everyone to tackle projects like this.

• In retrospect, while the hall was being comprehensively upgraded the Trust believe they may have missed the opportunity to install under-floor insulation in the hall, and agree if they were to carry out the work again, this is something they would definitely reconsider. Consider ways to make the management of the hall easier - in this case Logie Coldstone Trust has:

• had the building wired to make electronic access possible in the future to minimise the need for committee members to come along to open up and lock up;

• installed a heating system which is much easier to manage -this avoids having to come down hours before a meeting /event to put on the heating;

• assess the objectives of new projects and try to seek funding from the appropriate bodies, Logie Coldstone Trust spent too long seeking lottery funding which was not appropriate for the project - the project became much easier once funders were identified to fund objectives which matched the Trust’s aims;

• do not put too much faith in external consultants to come up with a solution, the wider community is often able to come up with a realistic and workable solution, specifically tailored to suit the communities needs.

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