Future plans for Community Hubs
A plan has been unveiled to work with local people to shape and design five state-of-the-art Community Hubs – integrated facilities that enhance and improve the quality of services for local people. Residents will be fully involved in developing the proposals and encouraged to help co-design the project, including what services are delivered from each hub. We answer your questions on Community Hubs and council Leader Jas Athwal explains his vision for the project.
Our community hubs programme is a chance to build stronger, more accessible Redbridge services in partnership with our residents. We want to build five new centres around the borough so we can deliver services closer to the people who need them. It’s really important that we’re clear about what is being proposed, so here are some frequently asked questions.
Why are we proposing these hubs?
We want to find better ways to deliver our services, ensuring that they are more accessible for our residents. At present, the council works from over 50 properties across the borough. Some of these properties are old, dilapidated and are not well located. Because some of these properties are reaching the end of their natural lifespan, we want state-of-the-art facilities for our residents, and proactively planning for the future means we can ensure service delivery rather than react when buildings go beyond their lifespan and may have to close for good.
"What has the cabinet agreed?"
Cabinet has approved the principle of the community hubs approach and authorised officers to explore options for the five sites and to consult with residents what they want in their locality. The only outcome
is that residents’ views are taken on board to design new, accessible and modern facilities. We will co-design each hub with local stakeholders and consult before any decisions are taken.
"Aren’t you changing things without any consultation?"
No. The Cabinet paper is clear that we must engage with local stakeholders asking them to help design the services that they want at their local community hubs.
What will be in each hub?
Services that might go into the hubs will include state-of-the-art modern libraries, children’s centres, as well as social work locality teams and neighbourhood street cleansing with police services, GPs, voluntary and community groups and leisure services, but that will depend on what our residents want.
"Will any services close as a result of this programme?"
No, this is about improving services and increasing accessibility and not about service closures or reductions.
"Isn’t this all going to be very expensive?"
The community hubs will be built by council’s housing company, Redbridge Living, as part of wider housing developments across the borough. We expect that this approach will mean the council faces very few direct costs. In the long run it will save money improving quality whilst preserving services locally.
"What will happen if we don’t consolidate our services?"
If Redbridge doesn’t consolidate its services into Community Hubs and protect what we have, it could mean a reduction in services due to government cuts to council funding. This funding cut is dramatically reducing our ability to provide services in different locations. Hubs would allow council to keep open the services most valued by residents.
"Do you own the site?
Yes, the Council owns the Gants Hill site.
"Are you closing Gants Hill Library down?
No, we will ensure a state-of- the-art modern library facility to exist on this site.
"Will there be a new library of the same size and offering same services in Gants Hill?
Yes, there will be a better library with more services then now.
"Will the new library be open for the same hours as it is now? "
Depending on what residents choose, it could mean that the library opens for longer.
"Will the new hub have any community space that we can rent for events? "
This is an opportunity for the residents to design what they want here.
"Will there be a reduction in car parking spaces in the car park? "
There will be ample parking space available to residents in and around the Gants Hill Library and onsite.
"What will happen to the library during construction?"
If any construction needs to take place, this will either be done as a phased build, or a temporary location for the library would be found in close proximity to the current one.
"Will you keep the existing building? "
This depends what resident consultations reveal and what the residents want.
"Is the existing building listed – if so, what is its status? "
Yes, this is a locally listed building. Any changes and demolition would need to have residents’ involvement before anything can happen.
"Why not just leave Gants Hill Library alone? Are there any problems with it right now?"
As the council’s grant funding is cut further by central Government it could mean that facilities such as this may need to be closed. Future proofing the currently library and other services, accommodated in a community hub to save time and money for our residents is vital if we are to secure the future of the library.
"How many new homes are you proposing?"
None are proposed as yet but we will need to fund the building of Hubs, hence everything will go through public consultation before we make any plans or recommendations.
"How big will the new homes be?"
This will depend on the number, which has not been consulted on.
"Is this an appropriate location for new homes? "
The locations we are proposing Community Hubs, like at Gants Hill are close to public transport links which is vital for any new housing sites.
"Will there be any commercial space for small/local businesses?"
This will be open for consultation with residents, but we envisage space will primarily be available for services rather than business.
"Will the proposed space for local police teams be a contact point for the public too?"
If the police and residents want this, we will make this available for police-public contact.
"How much will this library cost and will local taxpayers cough up the money for it?"
As there are no current plans, we are unable to estimate costs but it is envisaged that any new homes will help pay for the build.
"When will you submit a planning application? "There are no current plans because we must consult on the design first.
"How long will construction last?"
This will depend on when the Hub is designed and will depend on the complexity and nature of the build.
"Will the current garden be built over? Will there be any open space? "
This is open to resident consultation; green space is important to Redbridge Council so we would look at keeping as much green and garden space as possible in any new Community Hub.
"What will happen to the traffic light crossing in front of the library now?"
Any safety crossings in an around any Community Hub will remain or relocated very close to sites depending on requirements.