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The popular and well-used Three Trees Community Centre in the Chelmsley Wood area of North Solihull was revamped by this project.
The work involved the refurbishment of toilets, a corridor and a main room. The toilets were over 40 years old and needed improving. The work included the installation of one that can be used by disabled people. The corridor’s lighting and flooring were improved and a new community room was created by merging part of a corridor with a run-down and little-used room. The centre was also rewired and energy-efficient radiators were installed.
Opened in 1972, the centre supports, hosts and runs a wide range of community activities and it focuses on celebrating and supporting the community. Examples of activities include dog training, kid’s clubs, art and music groups, a community choir, a fitness group, and martial arts - anything that looks like it would be fun. The centre has over 900 regular visitors and is a central part of community life.
The centre’s management team conducted two in-depth consultations with the community, involving over 200 respondents, to ensure the facilities were what the community wanted and needed. Groups using the building were also consulted.
There is no other community centre in Chelmsley Wood itself and neighbouring areas have varying levels of opportunity. The development of a village hub on the centre’s doorstep showed that there was a need for community space. With a school, offices, medical centre and shops being built, it was clear that the area was becoming a real focal point for local people, and public transport was being redirected to serve the area, meaning people will be able to easily access the services and community life offered at the centre.
Once the need for improvements had been identified, the management team discussed what sorts of spaces people needed and then had plans drawn up. These were then discussed with the community and user groups at a consultation led by the architects. Plans were confirmed or adapted as needed and the final proposal shared over a period of several months through information boards, meetings and newsletters.
During Phase 1, amendments to the exterior undertaken in 2012, the centre team kept talking with all stakeholders to check whether needs had changed. Since the refurbished building was opened, there was an increase in demand for space. This was ongoing and the second phase – the interior revamp – was developed. The management team then consulted local residents, user groups and stakeholders on what was needed.
The main responses related to providing places for people to meet. Some of the key specifics were around activities for young people, children and older people. Wellbeing was highlighted, in terms of health, isolation and employment. When asked what specific activities people would like to see, many responses were around visual art and music, but there was a good response towards art activities in general.
Finally, when asked about the state and use of the building, virtually every response said that it need repair and redecoration, with key areas of concern being a leaking roof, inefficient heating and a shabby condition. Answers also emphasised the importance of the community rooms, kitchen and outside spaces.
The management team started working with an architect to draw up plans, which were met with support from the community. As the plans were developed, meetings continued with the residents’ group and Solihull council.