Plans to refurbish upstairs of the Festival Hall progress

Alderley Edge Parish Council are pressing on with plans to refurbish the first floor of the Festival Hall to create additional meeting rooms and toilets.

In November the Parish Council announced that it had been awarded a grant of £47,146 from funding body WREN, to enable them to further improve the facilities.

The Council has now commissioned plans for the space, drawn up by Alderley Edge architects Kimble Roden, and they have gone out to tender to four builders who have until the end of the month to respond.

In the space above the bar, which is currently derelict, the plans are to create two new meeting rooms.

One of these looks out on to the interior of the hall and features a curved ceiling, which was once part of the main hall itself. The architects have successfully retained the curve, as well as the decorative plasterwork on the ceiling, which dates back to the 1920s.

Councillor Geoff Hall commented: "We are delighted that Emma Roden and Edwin Kimble have been able to retain these architectural features, whilst at the same time incorporating energy-efficient contemporary LED lighting."

The second meeting room incorporates a small kitchen area. The existing toilets will also be refurbished and much needed storage space created. The Council believes that these new rooms will provide valuable meeting space for local organisations and will enhance the appeal of the hall itself.

Geoff added "We will now be able to provide a hall with capacity to seat over 300 people, with additional rooms for smaller groups to meet in. One other big plus is that the architects have met our brief for additional storage, which regular users of the hall will know has up to now been a big problem for us."

The Parish Council hopes to start the building work in May or June, with completion by the end of the summer.

Alderley Edge Parish Council, Festival Hall


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Kelvin Briggs
Tuesday 21st February 2017 at 11:08 am
An ever improving facility, welcome grants secured and the potential to seat 300 people is great news.
What's the latest on plans for increased car parking close to the facility to support the investment ?
Diana Bullock
Tuesday 21st February 2017 at 3:44 pm
Yes, Kelvin, parking is a problem. We have two dances each year, one for the May Fair (13th May) and one for the Royal British Legion (29th October) and every time we have to ask permission from the Roman Catholic Church and Barrington House to use their car parks.
Craig Browne
Tuesday 21st February 2017 at 4:37 pm
Hello Kelvin/Di,

Thanks as always for your comments.

I gave an update at the Parish Council meeting in December (, but just to recap, the process for creating additional parking at Heyes Lane is:

- identify an alternative plot of land to accommodate the displaced allotment holders;
- gain an in-principle agreement from the allotment holders/allotment society;
- apply for the removal of the restrictive covenant that currently exists on the land;
- apply to the Secretary of State for permission to move a statutory allotment site;
- lease part of the allotment site back from Cheshire East, as land for a car park;
- gain planning permission from Cheshire East for the creation of the car park;
- if and when all of the above are in place, identify funding and build the car park.

Cheshire East have helped to identify an alternative plot of land (adjacent to the tennis courts in the park) and we now await a decision on whether the Allotment Society, in principle, accept the compromise of a 44 space Car Park proposed by the current Parish Council.

It is worth adding that, without an agreement in principle, it will be almost impossible to remove the restrictive covenant, or gain approval from the Secretary of State, as statutory allotment sites are heavily protected under the terms of the Allotment Act.

With this in mind, we continue to progress alternatives, including an extension to the Ryleys Lane Car Park, as well as incremental gains in on-street parking.

Kind regards,
Duncan Herald
Tuesday 21st February 2017 at 8:33 pm
If I read the above clearly, it proposes that land next to the tennis courts in the park will become a new allotment.
Please identify exactly which piece of land and the size of the land to be taken from the park to become an allotment site.
Who exactly proposed to take park land away and turn it into an allotment?

If my understanding is correct, has this or will this be put to the citizens of Alderley Edge?
Pete Taylor
Tuesday 21st February 2017 at 10:17 pm
@ Duncan: when I asked the former PC a question on this website I was directed here:
Perhaps you could give that a try, rather than asking endless questions for CEC and AEPC here?

Fankly, I am surprised that you did not know how these things work.
Duncan Herald
Wednesday 22nd February 2017 at 9:25 am
Hi Pete,
you direct me to the Parish Council's contact form; I already ask questions of the P.C's Clerk, when its something I want to know, just for myself.

However when the matter is something that probably concerns our commuinity, rather than just me, I pose questions here.

I do know how things work i.e. when I was a Parish Councillor and people asked me questions, I always tried to answer, as that is I believe a part of the 'job'.
Sadly the present P.C. often chooses not to answer. Perhaps they'll answer this time.

Of course I may be wrong to involve the P.C., mayhaps the proposal is only coming from the Ward Councillor? alltho' he is also a Parish Councillor.

So here's another little question for you to mull over; is the proposal to dig up the park to put
in an allotment for real? If so, is it only involving the ward councillor? Is it a proposal from C.E.? Is it a proposal from the P.C.? Simple questions eh ? Easy to answer ?

In this particular context, if there is a proposal to dig up a site in the park, to provide yet more allotments, then a valuable public forum such as this one is surely a fitting place to initiate a dialogue?
Jon Williams
Wednesday 22nd February 2017 at 10:01 am
Well said Duncan "a valuable public forum such as this one is surely a fitting place to initiate a dialogue? " and true. It's a shame we don't hear more from the other PC members more often.
Duncan Herald
Wednesday 22nd February 2017 at 2:02 pm
Just a wee addendum;
how many allotment spaces will be lost to make room for 44 car parking spaces? and who decides which allotments/allotment holders will 'go'?
Kelvin Briggs
Thursday 23rd February 2017 at 8:41 pm
Duncan asks a good question,
When will the Allotment Society respond?
I'm a member of the Society with a plot on Chorley Hall Lane but have no information on how the Society will respond and have had no direct communication from the Society for an opinion.
I will happily give up my plot for reallocation by the Society to a Heyes Lane allotment holder if it helps achieve a car park for the Festival Hall and visitors to the village.
There are a number of allotment holders residing outside Alderley Edge , ( I'm one, technically Great Warford) who could be approached to pass on their plots to Heyes Lane holders living in Alderley Edge.
Some allotment holders work multiple plots , perhaps they could help by just working one plot and help the Society rehouse Heyes Lane plot holders residing in Alderley Edge?
It's time to drop self interest and support the village achieve a longer term car park solution.
The Festival Hall is a super facility and needs local people to support it and it's users with an adjacent car park.
Let's put 'Alderley First' and self interest second.
Whilst the road map to achieving a car park on part of Heyes Lane allotments is a challenging journey I would suggest it's worthy of a concerted effort by Craig and the Parish Council.
Mike Dudley-Jones
Friday 24th February 2017 at 6:41 am
It might be helpful to explain that the Parish Council, in conjunction with the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, are about to circulate a comprehensive questionnaire to each household within the Village to identify how our residents feel about a number of issues that effect how we will develop as we move towards 2030 and beyond.

The question relating to 'Car Parks and Parking' that will be posed within this vital document is:-
3.2 If the village had the opportunity to create a new 50 space car park, which of the following would you favour?
There then follows a list of alternatives of which land on the Heyes Lane Allotment site is one of them.

Craig Browne has given a clear indication of what would be required if this site is favoured by a high number of respondents but there is no bias against beginning that journey other than being sure that it is actually what the Village wants and the fact that the costs involved would be high (with little or no budget yet to pay for it).Craig has ensured that other Parking options continue to be progressed with Cheshire East.

The results of the questionnaire will be displayed here and on the Parish Council website once all replies are received towards the end of March 2017.

In my own view at this stage, I would not favour 'land next to the tennis courts in the Park' as an additional allotment site. I would prefer that the land there be allocated to our younger residents, especially those in there teens who favour perhaps a skate park in that quite small area.
Geoff Hall
Friday 24th February 2017 at 10:07 am
Regarding the comments by Duncan Herald and Jon Williams about lack of response by Councillors on this forum.

As Councillors we put a lot of work into communication with our fellow residents. We have held public meetings and we produce regular newsletters. We also try to respond quickly to residents’ questions. The report above was delivered publicly at the last Council meeting and Lisa is always scrupulous in reporting accurately.

Craig deserves much credit for his balanced responses to queries raised here. However none of us has limitless time. This week I have worked hard on the following activities:
- organising a Neighbourhood Plan meeting
- designing a NP questionnaire (which you will see shortly)
- developing a Business and Action Plan for the Festival Hall
- carrying out a 6 month review with the FH manager
- ordering pictures of old Alderley Edge to go in the Festival Hall
- meeting with the Festival Hall Advisory Group to manage the refurbishment program
- meeting with the Harley St practice who will move into one of the Medical Centre suites
- reviewing additional work required at the Medical Centre
- helping the Britain in Bloom team pull together their plan
- and more

This is just a sample of a very heavy workload, which has been continuous over the last two years.

I do it with pleasure because it brings me into constant contact with residents, many of whom are working as volunteers (just like us) to improve our village . But it leaves me little time to enter into debate here.

If you want to engage with us more there are plenty of ways to do it – for example as a volunteer with the AE Partnership, who recently rolled up their sleeves and planted 20,000 bulbs around the village.

Dare I suggest that we have a far greater need for people who are willing to put their shoulders to the wheel, rather than just their fingers to the keyboard?

And please don’t expect further posts from me: I have too much work to do! You are however always very welcome to email me or call me at my home: 01625 581321

Best wishes
Geoff Hall
Duncan Herald
Friday 24th February 2017 at 10:11 am
1. for info. re. skateboard facility, try
In the park in Handforth, a new skateboard area has been built, to replace a previous, poor-condition one. It cost £85,000. There are comments, for and against.

2. I re-checked the info. that Craig posted, above; to make sure that we are still in February, rather than early April !
I just fail to understand how anyone would seriously expect support for digging up some of our small park to put in more allotments! I'm pleased that Mike D-J (above) agrees with me; now there's a first?
What next? dig up the bowling green and put in a crazy golf place? or perhaps a few more allotments?
By the way, where in the A.E. park would the proposed skateboarding facility go?
Oh well, perhaps I'm wrong: perhaps the 'allotmentistas' are right?

3. Why a 50 place car park? I'd be willing to wager 10p that in the last year or two, more than 50 spaces have been lost.
May I remind readers that the original idea, admitedly by the previous P.C., was for a car park on the Heyes Lane site holding 125-150+ spaces (the difference being how you wanted the cars shoe-horned in and the amount of greenery you wanted).
Is 50 spaces just too little, too late?

4. Hi Kelvin.
I thought your post was choc-a-bloc with common sense.
One of the several reasons for suggesting that the Heyes Lane site be turned into a full-size car park, was that there were a number of non-A.E.-residents working allotments in A.E. Perhaps the Allotment Society has the current figures on that question?
Also might we know exactly how many allotments there are in A.E. currently? That might have an influence on peoples' opinion about having new ones?
Diana Bullock
Friday 24th February 2017 at 12:10 pm
Again, Kelvin, I agree with what you say. The hall is a super facility but needs parking for visitors using the hall. I support the hall by organizing two dances a year and have used it on other occasions. On a day to day routine, I never need a car space, as I have two good legs! When we had an allotment, people were having one-and-a-half and two allotments that I can remember.
Fenton Simpson
Friday 24th February 2017 at 12:53 pm
The Allotments and gardens society and Parish council have been having constructive and ongoing discussions on the Heyes Lane car park proposal and this has brought up at our AGM in January. Like any organisation we have differing views on this proposal but we all want what’s best for the village in the long term.

Despite what some people might think in this village you cannot simply turn statutory allotments into a car park without going through the correct planning and regulatory process. This takes time and it sets presidents in planning applications for similar changes in land use, in this case for Cheshire East who are the land owners.

It is good to hear that the Church has opened up their car park to use to the hall when not needed for their own use.

If anyone would like to speak to me regarding this matter I would be happy to talk please email at

Fenton Simpson
Chairman AEAGS

(I wont be commenting further on this article as I don’t believe it would be constructive)
Duncan Herald
Sunday 26th February 2017 at 10:11 am
Good Morning Geoff,

so you have discovered that being a Parish Councillor demands time and effort? Well, well, well, who would've thought it !
Did no one tell you?

That explains why so many Parish Councillors are retired people.

That explains why so many Parish Councils have trouble drumming up enough Councillors.

Good Morning Mike D-J,

A questionaire could be a good idea. I hope it will be bias-free.
By the way, how do you intend to circulate it: I have never received ought from you guys, through my letter box or any other way. Can I play too ?
Mike Dudley-Jones
Monday 27th February 2017 at 11:41 am
I am glad that Duncan Herald thinks that a questionnaire 'could be a good idea'. It can be quite tricky to establish what our residents feel about various important issues without asking them!