Frequently Asked Questions

The Beehive

A Community Complex for Honiton


Why are we building it?

Honiton currently has limited facilities for meetings and training; this means that local organisations and local business are hampered in their development. In addition there is limited opportunity for performances by both local and professional organisations; this means that residents of both the town and surrounding villages have to travel further afield for entertainment. In population terms, Honiton is the second largest urban area in East Devon but is less well served in community facilities than most of the other towns and some villages.

Who is it for?

It is first and foremost for the community. There is a critical lack of community space in Honiton. The Mackarness Hall is now the largest available venue in the town and is almost fully booked for every evening as well as a number of daytime periods.

How much will it cost the taxpayer?

The Town Council has obtained a loan from the Public Works Loan Board of £975,000. This is repayable at a fixed rate of interest over 50 years and will be approximately £60,000 per annum; this amount is already affordable from the current precept and it is not intended that the precept will rise to cover building costs. The Honiton precept is significantly lower than that of some other towns and some rural parishes in East Devon.

One of the main problems with community facilities is the ongoing running costs. To overcome this problem, it is intended that the Town Council, the Registrar and the Robert Owen Communities charity will relocate to the community complex, guaranteeing an annual income of over £60,000. With this cushion, it will be possible to offer the facilities to local people and organisations at a reduced cost and still ensure that running costs are covered.

Is this just a new home for the Town Council?

The Beehive is for the whole community. The Town Council is moving into the community complex for two reasons. Firstly, its current premises are not fit for purpose, especially disabled access, and it would cost the taxpayer more to relocate the Council to alternative premises. Secondly, by transferring the current running costs of the Town Council to the community complex there is an overall saving.

The offices being provided for Town Council staff, together with the function room that will be used as a Council Chamber, have all been designed to be multi-purpose and able to be used for a wide variety of community activities.

Who will use it?

The Town Council has surveyed local organisations and this has shown a minimum of 24 organisations wanting to use the facilities on a regular basis. In addition it is intended that programmes of entertainment and participation will be run for the general public; rooms will be available for hire for parties etc; a cafe and internet cafe will be available; and the Registrar will be more accessible for registration of births and deaths and will be able to re-introduce marriage ceremonies in Honiton.

Is this a good time to be spending this sort of money?

The Town Council is very aware of the current financial situation but believes that Honiton needs to develop so that it is self-sustaining and attracts other people to the town to enhance its viability and prosperity. By building now, the Town Council is able to take advantage of very low interest rates for the loan required. There should of course be some extra local work available during the construction.

Are we sure people want it?

Since the 1990s the Town Council has carried out over 30 public consultations including public meetings, leaflets and questionnaires to every household, Councillors’ question times, consultations with local groups and organisations, consultations with disability groups and young people. With the exception of the Town Poll in 2010 all of these have shown the majority of residents to be in favour of the project.

When will it be Completed?

It is estimated that the building will be completed by the end of 2013.

Is this just a project of the Town Council?

At all times this project has been planned in conjunction with East Devon District Council as it meets the strategies laid down for the Honiton area in their Local Plan.

Will local groups be able to afford it?

Charges for the community complex have been proposed in three bands: (a) commercial rates (b) private/registered charity rates (c) community rates. Most local groups would fall into category (c) and prices at this band have been set to be comparable with other local facilities, with the large hall being available for £60 a session, the upstairs function room being available for £30 a session and small meeting rooms being available at £20 a session.

How much do you need to fundraise?

The cost of the build, associated fees and basic fitting out is estimated at £2,000,000. Most of this is covered by developer money (that can only be used for a community facility), a grant from East Devon District Council, reserves built up by the Town Council, and the loan. On current estimates, taking into account funds already raised, this leaves just over £34,000 to find. The 'Friends of the Beehive' fundraising group is now actively working on this.

What is happening about Japanese Knotweed?

EDDC has been controlling Knotweed at this site for 8 years and it has been reduced from a large infestation to a couple of sprigs. Two or three of the private houses which back onto this site have Knotweed in their gardens to a major or minor degree. At least 1 private house on the other side of the road opposite 14 Riverside Close has Knotweed in its front garden. It is unclear where the infestation on EDDC land came from, but it is looking increasingly likely that some contaminated soil was imported during landscaping works in one of the private houses, which has spread to other properties including Dowell Street car park. EDDC has taken the appropriate steps to control the weed on its land. They do not consider it to be a hazard to the site.