The survey was well-received with most responses from an older demographic (64% of respondents were 55+), female (58%) and local to The Charltons (81%). That said, young people (10-17 years) were well represented (12.6%).
The pandemic certainly affected use, with The Community Centre closed for much of 2020. Even pre-Covid, the majority (52%) only used it for special occasions such as school events or parties but sport (pickleball) and youth club attracted 37% to the venue at least once a week. Conversely The Memorial Playing Field was used more. It was an invaluable place to meet outside, play and get away from working at home: more than 85% used it the same or more than usual, with 18.5% there every day and 37.8% at least once a week.
There is no doubt that The Community Centre and Memorial Playing Field are highly valued but the state of the building – described as cold, leaky and ugly – diminishes its position in the heart of The Charltons and puts people off using what is, overall, an excellent space. Improvements to make it warm, welcoming, flexible and attractive are top priorities.
Designed as a sports hall, this remains its primary use and villagers want this to continue – alongside making it a more flexible space with added facilities such as an extra smaller hall, community cafe, publicly-accessible toilets and refurbished car park. The showers and changing rooms are virtually unused and can be seen as wasted space, but some believe sports teams should be attracted back to use the full facilitates. The majority, however, view it as time to reassess the facilities based on current and desired uses, and to refurbish to meet those needs, now and in the future.
The majority, however, view it as time to reassess the facilities based on current and desired uses, and to refurbish to meet those needs, now and in the future.
The following Figure shows the priority of what is required from an improved Community Centre: