12.12.2023 Two vital new community centres get the go ahead

December 12, 2023

We’re very excited to announce that planning permission has been granted for not one, but two of our new community centre projects, the Venture Community Hub in Gloucester and the Aaina Community Hub in Walsall.

These two community hubs will provide much-needed regeneration to their local areas. They will not only give the local community a safe and welcoming place to come together and access the support they need, they will inject investment and boost employment opportunities too. And we are really thrilled that we were able to design both buildings to meet Passivhaus environmental standards.

Aaina Community Hub

In Walsall, we will be rebuilding an existing 1960s Women’s Centre to create a purpose-built, sustainable and innovative community hub on the periphery of the St Matthew’s Quarter.

The design will reflect the needs of the local community. It has been influenced by the people who will use it to provide a safe, gender and culturally sensitive space to access work skills, vocational courses, digital literacy and a programme of health and wellbeing initiatives that address health inequalities, poor mental health and isolation.

The Hub will promote arts and cultural initiatives for Walsall women and their families, in partnership with local organisations to enhance wellbeing. The cohesive space will deliver work-related training opportunities enabling improved employment opportunities in remote and local industries and enterprises. Specialised services delivered through multidisciplinary partnerships will equip women and their children with the skills to access pathways out of poverty, build resilience and improve social mobility in the short and long term.

The design will reinterpret qualities of design familiar to the Asian community, using the materials and forms familiar to contemporary architectural design. The external walls will be dark red brickwork with contrasting panels of yellow tiles and openings in aluminium clad timber joinery and oak cladding. The roofs will be sloping with photovoltaic panels set within a zinc standing seam roof covering. A skylight at the apex of the roof will bring natural light into the heart of the building above the staircase. The west elevation will be highly glazed with balconies, to give the benefit of the view to the community rooms on this side of the building. The playgroup at lower ground floor level will have direct access to the garden to the west.

Venture Community Hub

The White City area of Gloucester is ranked in the top 10% most deprived areas of Gloucestershire. But the area has a long tradition of community action, evidencing almost 40 years of successful community-led activities and a strong community spirit with a very solid identity. However, it is significantly under-resourced.

With the loss of many of its assets including a community project and pub, the community has recognised that it is unable currently to provide the range of opportunities and activities it both needs and aspires to. The highly successful, community-led Venture Playground has proven invaluable for families, and has highlighted the extreme need for additional facilities for sports and recreation, and also contact points for support, information and advice . For the past five years, they have sought support from the community and local government for the addition of a community centre designed to meet the requirements of those living in the area.

The White City Community and Recreation Centre Project has been established to design, build and mobilise a sustainable, community-led Centre that will become the heart of the White City community, providing space for a wide range of much-needed recreational and social support activities.

The starting point for the project was to document a clear set of principles for the creation of the Community and Recreation Centre. This enabled a clear and common understanding of what was wanted to be achieved, which could then be followed up with further research on the detailed needs of the community through surveys and consultation, and targeting of similar ventures against which to learn and benchmark.

The aim is to develop a thriving, dynamic and accessible Community and Recreation Centre that is reflective of and responsive to local needs identified through consultation, and which helps address the City’s deprivation and inequalities in a coordinated and considered way.