Natasha Kaplinsky opens Barcombe’s new village hall

TELEVISION newsreader and presenter Natasha Kaplinsky heralded a new era in the history of Barcombe.

She cut the ribbon to officially open the magnificent new village hall, a building bristling with state-of-the-art green credentials.

It was a task close to Natasha’s heart - she grew up in the area and was a pupil at Barcombe Primary School. Some 400 people gathered for the ceremony, including Lewes MP Norman Baker.

The Playgroup, Scouts and young members of the Barcombe Players put on entertainment and the WI served coffee and home-made cakes while villagers and invited guests had their first good look at the new facility. Flowers were presented to Natasha by seven-year-old Rohana Parsons.

The hall, which cost in excess of £750,000, was designed by Camilla Nordgren, Associate Director of London-based Satellite Architects, specialists in sustainability.

Features of the innovative design include:

•a heat recovery system which provides excellent levels of fresh air combined with a 70-80 per cent recovery of heat from exhausted air;

•a solar thermal collector which provides hot water;

•a PV ‘photo voltaic’ array which provides sufficient electricity to support the heat recovery unit and electricity in the summer months;

•an export inverter which allows any additional electricity to be sold to the electricity supplier through a grid connection.

The green roof of the main hall is designed to limit water run off, while the remaining roof structures are designed to direct and collect water to a central rain-harvesting tank. This is filtered and used in the building for lavatory flushing and watering plants.

The project has taken some 10 years. It was funded through generous local donations, fundraising events, grants from Viridor and the Garfield Weston Foundation and the sale of the old hall.

The old hall, which will be converted to a private home, dates back to 1882. It had served the village well but the condition of the building and the limitations of the site made it unsuitable for the future.

Rafe Clutton was a retired quantity survyor who lived in Barcombe for many years. He offered his expertise to assist the new hall project and acted as Project Manger through the first stages of the build. Sadly, he died at the end of 2010 and did not see the results of his work.

Dilys Skan, Chair of the Trustees of the Village Hall, said: “It has been a long and hard road getting this beautiful hall, but it is worth all the hard work. We are sad that Rafe Clutton, who was instrumental in bringing the project to fuition, is not with us today, but we are pleased to be able to name the main hall in his memory in recognition of his significant contribution.”

Janet Hughes, Chair of the New Village Hall Committee, said: “With its lovely setting and excellent facilities, we have a wonderful new venue which will be of great benefit to the community for years to come.”

Anyone interested in booking the building for an event or function should contact Hall Manager Ray Hepple on 01273 400576 or visit