JOIN THE CAMPAIGN TO SAVE MILL HALL
Find out about what's happening with the campaign to save Mill Hall, information on the Council's proposed demolition and
what we feel are the benefits of preserving the hall for everyone.
Rochford District Council (RDC) wants to demolish the Mill Hall
as part of it's combined disposal of council assets within the district.
The reason for disposing of the council assets, according to RDC, is for overall district cost savings of £300k per year (across all assets in the district) but also to afford a multi million pound new build of council offices in Rochford at the Freight House. The advancement of the plans is happening during the Covid-19 Pandemic, which means meaningful engagement by the public has been difficult and we believe the process should be halted for proper public scrutiny and discussion.
WHAT ARE THE COUNCIL'S PLANS?
RDC wants to demolish Mill Hall and replace it with four-story flat blocks which are to be built a stone's throw from our historic grade II listed Windmill. An insufficient, small community centre less than 10 percent the size of the Mill Hall will be built directly next to the Windmill as a replacement for the Mill Hall. A significant reduction of essential public parking spaces will occur on the site as part of the development.
The environmental impact of demolition of the hall on the community and the wildlife of the adjacent protected Rayleigh Mount will be massive. The building of multiple flat blocks in place of the Mill Hall will add to the environmental burden as will the increasing strain on our local infrastructure with yet more residential developments in the heart of our town.
RDC's redevelopment plan goes against its own previously published Town Plan and proposes the building of flat blocks in a designated Conservation Area, an area of Rayleigh Town Centre that the council itself determines as an area to protect from overdevelopment!
THE NEGLECT OF MILL HALL
Mill Hall appears to have been underfunded for years by RDC and left to deteriorate with no real intention of protecting its future. Yet RDC say the hall was 'heavily subsidised'. RDC says there is no demand for the hall, which users of the hall and the community dispute. When asked in it's public webinar on the development plans, RDC stated that they did not know what it would cost to renovate the Mill Hall. It would appear that the council has no interest in improving and safeguarding the Mill Hall at all.
We believe this is a dereliction of duty by RDC who should have been preserving and enhancing our key assets for our use as taxpayers. The Mill Hall was before the Pandemic, a busy, vital community hub and could have a very successful future with investment and decent management.
WHY KEEP THE MILL HALL?
A COMMUNITY AND ARTS CENTRE FOR ALL
The Mill Arts & Events Centre in Rayleigh, Essex, known locally as 'The Mill Hall', has been a well-used and well-loved vital community centre for 50 years, and pre-Covid Pandemic was busier than ever. It is a multi-purpose venue with a large hall space with fixed stage and equipment and 'backstage' space, break out rooms and bar and an upstairs second hall for further functions and a cafe. It is currently hosting a large scale Covid 19 vaccination centre to great success. This would not have been possible in a small community centre.
A smaller replacement community centre will mean live music, theatre, comedy nights, craft fairs and many other events that currently take place at The Mill Hall will no longer be able to take place, because the reduced size will mean that it will not be possible to sell enough tickets to recoup the costs of hosting such events and because the facilities for such events will not be sufficient.
A BRIGHT FUTURE FOR THE MILL HALL
We believe that with the right management and marketing, the venue could thrive even more. Because of it's multi purpose facilities and large spaces, there is always the possibility of increased revenues and future growth. Reduce it by 90% as the council is proposing with a small community centre replacement, and that opportunity will be lost forever.
The hall does need new investment (which we think the council should have provided) for renovation. This needs to be explored fully and costed out, something which RDC has not done. However, we have a functioning, flexible and busy space already built and the destruction of the hall for the purpose of building flat blocks and financing council offices elsewhere in the district is unacceptable to thousands of residents.
I HEARD ABOUT THIS?
LACK OF COMMUNICATION AND PUBLIC CONSULTATION
RDC believes that it is appropriate to advance these plans during a National Pandemic - a time of unprecedented upheaval and disruption to our normal way of life.
They have made a website available for the redevelopment plans which you can view here. They also held a registration only online webinar for the Mill Hall site for which residents could pre-submit questions for in order that the council could prepare their response. Many questions went unanswered.
RDC has not however provided an in-person consultation by way of a public meeting or platform because UK law currently prevents this due to the Coronavirus legislation. We believe it is morally wrong to not provide decent and multiple ways to communicate these proposals and host debate on them with the public before further steps are taken.
Thousands of residents do not engage with the internet or social media.
A public meeting in a large space is the only way taxpayers can have debate about the proposals in which both sides of the argument can be heard. Our elected councillors should be held accountable and should be heard and be on record publicly, in response to thousands of residents concerns.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
JOIN OUR FIGHT TO PROTECT RAYLEIGH MILL HALL
If you believe these proposals are wrong, or even feel that you want more transparency and communication from RDC you can help us by engaging with our campaign by the following means:
CONSIDER WHO YOU VOTE FOR IN THE 6TH MAY LOCAL ELECTIONS (A VOTE FOR CONSERVATIVES MEANS A VOTE FOR THESE PLANS TO GO AHEAD)
VOLUNTEER YOUR HELP
SHARE YOUR OPPOSITION ON SOCIAL MEDIA
WHO ARE WE?
A COMMUNITY, RESIDENT LED GROUP OPPOSING THE ASSET PLANS
We are a collection of concerned residents of the Rochford District, appalled by the council's proposals to demolish the Mill Hall. We have no political affiliation and wish to only see that Rayleigh's prime cultural asset, the Mill Hall is protected for future generations and the proposed overdevelopment of Rayleigh is stopped.