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Community share their views on the future of the Assembly Hall

THE Melksham community met with a team of architects last week to share their views on the best way to give the Assembly Hall a new lease of life.

Some of the ideas suggested for the hall’s future included more natural lighting in the foyer and the hall; a new family area with play equipment; a new stage, retractable seating and a balcony area.

At the consultation meetings, locals were asked a series of questions: How do you feel in each space?; What would you change?; What do you dislike about the Assembly Hall?; What do you like about the Assembly Hall?; and What is your vision for the Assembly Hall?

Architect Jen Lorrimar-Shanks from CaSA Architects said, “The community was asked what their visions were for the refurbished Assembly Hall. These visions were then incorporated into a ‘future tour’ at the end of the morning session, where the group toured the Assembly Hall as it would be 10 years in the future.

“The tour included being drawn to the Assembly Hall from the Market Place by the newly lit sign, generous parking provision for the less able bodied, walking through a naturally-lit foyer between the Assembly Hall and the Town Hall that had a local artist exhibiting and a small band playing in the corner.

“Sliding doors closed part of the foyer off from a family area with toys and play equipment. The bar opens onto this new foyer so the audience could spill out into this space. The refurbished hall had a new stage for dance performances, retractable seating, large rooflights with electric black-out blinds, sliding partitions, and a balcony area.

“The ladies’ toilets had also been refurbished and enlarged to look like old theatre powder rooms with red velvet cushions, flock wallpaper, and large mirrors.

“Prior to the tour, community members wrote on a plan of the Assembly Hall to explain how the existing spaces made them feel. Generally they felt quite happy in the hall space, but there are some acoustic problems, the seats are uncomfortable and you couldn’t see the stage, and when the group size is small, the hall feels bare.

“They were asked to put red dots on another plan to show which areas they felt needed the most work. People felt the toilets, the bar and the foyer needed the most work. They used post-it notes to explain what they liked/disliked about the existing spaces. They felt the hall is dated, there is a lack of parking, the bar is too small, the Assembly Hall is ‘hidden away’, and the stage and hall floor were slippery.

“The community like the size, location, flexibility, facilities offered by the Assembly Hall, and were really positive about the variety of events/acts.”

Views were also collected from the community via an online survey that closed earlier this week. CaSA will now collate all the suggestions before presenting them to the town council.

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