Lighting Up the Love’s Farm House Garden

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RidgeonsThanks to a grant from Ridgeons Community Fund, the garden at Love’s Farm House is now bedecked with LED strip lighting along the trellis and pergola arch. It makes a massive difference for groups using the garden after dark, including private parties, people attending our regular Friday bar nights, as well as community events such as our Great Get Together barbecue (22 June from 4:30pm). A big thank you to Ridgeons, and to Cambridgeshire Community Foundation, which administered the grant.

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Love’s Farm House is available to hire for private parties, wedding receptions, Christenings and charity fundraisers. Please check out our hire rates or call Jenny on 01480 262626 for more information.

We’re always looking for ways to improve our community centre. If you have any ideas please get in touch at ben@lovesfarmhouse.co.uk.

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Taking Stock

LFH coffee cupWe’ve just taken delivery of our coffee cups. That might not seem very exciting to people reading this blog but for us it’s another checkpoint on our journey from having an idea about a community centre to the reality of being open for business. Meanwhile, construction of the building is coming along nicely. It looks pretty much complete from the outside. Inside, the under-floor heating and concrete screed are down, internal walls are going up, wiring and ventilation are going in. We’ve been told there may be a delay to the connection of the electric and gas supply but we’re really hoping this won’t upset our plans to be open in September. It’s likely that activity on site will quieten down over July and August, but please be assured that we’re doing everything we can to be open as soon as possible. construction-Jun15-aA few people have asked what’s happening with the new preschool. This will be managed entirely separately to Love’s Farm House, and we’re still waiting to hear who our neighbours will be. The tender is being managed by Cambridgeshire County Council and a decision is due imminently. There’s a huge amount going on behind the scenes with our trustees and other volunteers. We’re working on our website and marketing strategy, planning the launch festival, applying for licenses and dozens of other tasks in anticipation of launch. We now have a busy calendar of events with 28 weekly sessions pencilled in, and we’re in the process of turning these into confirmed bookings. We’re looking forward to sharing details with everyone soon. It’s not too late to get in touch if you’re interested in running a session, or know someone who might be – please email chair@lovesfarmhouse.co.uk. construction-Jun15-cWe’re placing orders for furniture, kitchen equipment, garden supplies, AV and IT equipment, cleaning equipment, signage… our shopping list currently runs to over 350 orders. A huge thanks to St Neots Town Council for their financial support with this. It would simply be impossible to do it without them. A big thanks to BPHA, our local housing association that has always been a key supporter of Love’s Farm Community Association and Love’s Farm House. We’ve just received funding from BPHA to continue the Love’s Farm Youth Club at the Farm House, and also to launch a new youth project for 14- to 18-year-olds. Watch this space for more details. construction-Jun15-bAnd big thanks too to HDC, which owns the freehold to Love’s Farm House and is overseeing its construction. We’ve had our ups and downs over the months and years as both parties have struggled to make the community centre a reality, but we’re hugely grateful that HDC has stuck with it and that we’re finally in sight of the finishing line.

Steel structure is up

Steel structure

The building site at Kester Way now has something resembling a building – and it looks big! The right half (with a higher roof) will be the main hall. The left half will house the foyer, kitchen, meeting room, toilets and office, plus a pre-school facility that will be managed separately. Compare the photo above with the artist’s impression below and you can already see where the glass wall to the foyer seating area will be, plus the windows that encircle the hall just below the roof.

Love's Farm House

No doubt there will be lots of milestones over the next few months, but this one feels particularly exciting.

Construction underway

At long last, construction has now commenced on Kester Way. Diggers, excavators and dumper trucks have been ferrying mud around and off the site in preparation for foundations to be laid. We’ve been told that it’s only a matter of weeks before the steelwork starts to go up. For those who said that they’ll believe it when they see it, there’s finally some solid proof.

Digging trenches

Our volunteers have been busier than ever, too. Our garden subteam have come up with a fantastic design for the garden. The interior design team are picking out furniture, paint colours and floor finishes. We’ve worked on our hire policies, held meetings with AV installation companies, talked to service providers and worked incredibly hard on fundraising applications. We’ve attended numerous meetings with St Neots Town Council, who have generously agreed to assist us with fixtures and fittings and other set-up costs (more info on this soon).

Today we had our long-awaited meeting with the construction project managers, contractors and subcontractors to discuss various changes we’ve requested to the building specification. It looks like we’ve caught them in the nick of time. We’re hoping that HDC can help with the cost of these changes – watch this space. We’ve also welcomed some new volunteers in the last couple of weeks. It’s the residents of Love’s Farm and St Neots who will be the making of this building, and it’s great to see support for this project grow week by week. But that’s enough heart-warming messages. It’s time for a song.

First spade in the ground

Turf cuttingLove’s Farm House volunteers, representatives from the town, district and county councils, the design and construction teams and BPHA gathered today to mark the beginning of construction of our community centre. The first spade in the ground was placed by Natasha Gregson with help from her mum (and our charity secretary) Caroline and Cllr Barry Chapman.

This day has been a long time in coming, but it’s wonderful to see things starting to happen on the site. Building begins in earnest on 5 January, and we should start to see the structure take a recognisable shape in late February.

I took the opportunity (and will do so again here) to thank HDC for its perseverance in seeing this project through, and Cambridgeshire County Council for funding the new pre-school. Huge thanks too to St Neots Town Council and BPHA for their generous support offered to our community group so we can unlock the full potential of this fabulous building. I also want to say a massive thanks to the dedicated, talented and inspiring team of volunteers that has come together to bring Love’s Farm House into existence.

2014 has been an exciting year for me, meeting and working with lots of people, learning masses of new things and, despite the ups and downs, really enjoying the whole experience. Thanks to the community centre, Love’s Farm has changed from a place where I happen to live to a place that truly feels like home. I hope that Love’s Farm House has the same effect on lots of other residents, whether it’s through volunteering, running groups or simply using its facilities. This centre belongs to all of us, and I can’t wait for us to move in.

Day One

Day OneThe contractors T&B formally took possession of the site today. We never thought we’d get emotional about seeing a fenced off Portaloo, but there you have it.

We also received news from HDC of our official address. The community centre shall be known as

Love’s Farm House
17 Kester Way
St Neots
PE19 6SL

We’re hoping to receive a draft of our lease this week. The heads of terms have been agreed, with the draft due on Wednesday. The lease between HDC and Love’s Farm Community Centre CIO will run for 30 years. There’s a peppercorn rent of £1 per year, plus a service charge to cover HDC’s cost of ownership. The community centre will need to be financially self-sufficient; we hope to do that by keeping the hire charges low and ensuring that it’s used as much as possible.

This week we’re also hoping to get to the bottom of some issues with the building specification that we’ve been trying to resolve for many months. St Neots Town Council have expressed its willingness to support the community centre to help with fixtures and fittings. We’re expecting a breakdown of costs from HDC this week for the specification changes we’re hoping to implement, and have a meeting scheduled with the Town Council next week. Watch this space for more details.

Building commences

The site, three days before work commences

After many years of waiting, Love’s Farm is finally on the brink of having its own community centre. The construction company takes possession of the site (between Tesco and the football club) on Monday 15 December, and construction will start on 5 January 2015.

The first thing residents will notice is that some of the Tesco car park bays have been taken over to house the builders’ compound. Sorry for the inconvenience. The nine bays along the north side of the car park will eventually be reserved for users of the pre-school and community centre.

There will be lots of construction traffic on Kester Way, particularly at the start. Please bear with us!