Audlem Parish Plans of 2005 and 2010 highlighted the need to improve "sport and youth recreational facilities" and the community's health and fitness.
In 2008 Community Project Groups were established to progress the Action Plans from the 2005 Parish Plan. The site to the rear of Audlem Public Hall was identified as being the preferred location for a new sport and recreational building and the site was surveyed and plans drawn up by Hulme Upright Manning. In November a Youth & Recreation Committee had its inaugural and only meeting.
In 2009 hopes that finance for a new building might be supported by the National Health Service/Audlem Medical Centre were first raised and then thwarted, and the new venture foundered.
After the publication of the 2010 Parish Plan, proposals to build a recreational centre were revisited and fresh impetus was given to the scheme by the resurrection of Audlem FC and the planned closure of Thornton House by Wulvern Housing. Footballers need changing rooms (and sometimes showers) and the Seniors' Luncheon Club needed a new home.
A new committee was formed in February 2013 and its members were drawn from a number of organisations that would be most involved: Audlem and District Community Action (ADCA), Audlem FC, Audlem 5As Drama Group, Audlem Public Hall, Audlem Parish Council and volunteers who wanted to restart Audlem Youth Club. This committee named the project APHAx.
By September 2013 a design for the new extension had been drawn by architect Arron Crick and costs, including VAT and a contingency allowance, were identified as £614, 000 (without professional fees). The new building consisted of a small hall/atrium, changing rooms and showers (on the ground floor), a lounge for the Seniors, a room for a new Youth Club (on the upper floor) and storage space for the 5As costumes and props.
A grant of £21,258 was obtained in January 2014 from the Homes and Community Agency for "seed corn" money that allowed the project to develop to planning application. At this time approaches were made to Cheshire East Council for the land to transfer to Audlem Public Hall. Also in January 2014 first contact was made with the Big Lottery Fund and we were on our way.
Our first attempt at funding, however, met with a red card from Cheshire Football Association who would not consider our application for £40,000 towards the costs of changing rooms as we do not own, or have exclusive use, of the playing field.
In April 2014 some 1,200 questionnaires were delivered to households in the area in order to gauge public support for the APHAx project. The response from 408 returns showed that there was overwhelming backing for the Annexe and the facilities it offered.
In August 2014 architect Martin Greenwood of Bower Edleston, Nantwich was selected as the appointed designer of the building through competitive tendering. A revised design moved the changing rooms to the upper floor and incorporated a small gym, with the rooms for the Youth Club moved to the ground floor.
Stephen Wright of Grant Funding Skills was appointed by the Committee to help in our applications to the Lottery. In September our application for Stage 1 of the Big Lottery Reaching Communities Building Fund was submitted. Confirmation that this was successful was received in November.
It took another three months to complete the second stage of the bid and the Lottery Fund paid their first visit to Audlem to evaluate the project in April 2015. News that Stage 2 had been successfully passed was advised in May.
Now came the hard work. The final, Stage 3, application was handed in to the Lottery Headquarters in Birmingham in November — two days before the deadline. This application was presented in two folders and consisted of 28,731 words over 101 pages, plus numerous pictures, plans and appendices.
Final confirmation of approval of the bid came in March 2016, but the rules and regulations of the National Lottery meant this news could not be made public before May because of the possible effect on local elections — even though there were none taking place at that time in Audlem.
In June 2016 tenders for construction went to 7 contractors recommended by the architect and, following a review, Sneyd Building Contractors Ltd. of Stoke-on-Trent were appointed as builders of the Annexe. Work started on 7th November 2016 and completion date was exactly one year later on 7th November 2017.
|Purchase of land to the rear of the Hall from Cheshire East||1|
|Feasibility stage planning||16,807|
|Construction of the building, including architect's fees||689,000|
|Furniture, fittings and equipment||34,000|
|Big Lottery (feasibility)||16,807|
|Big Lottery Fund||616,514|
|Homes and Community Agency||21,258|
|Audlem Public Hall||7,320|
|Parish Councils of Audlem, Buerton & Hankelow||22,650|
|Cheshire East Council||10,200|
With the builders on site the opportunity was taken to remodel the main entrance to the Hall in order to improve disability access and to have a new main entrance that would "tie-in" the old building with the new Annexe. The cost of this improvement was £38,000 and the cost was met entirely from Public Hall funds
The Grand Opening of the Public Hall's Annexe took place on 18th November 2017 with the ceremony performed by Sarah Callander Beckett, the High Sheriff of Cheshire.