The hall committee is set to consider a proposal for the extension and reconfiguration of the premises to provide space for a community shop. There will be much to explore and the committee have already consulted with the Village Hall Adviser at the Warwickshire Rural Community council and a solicitor specialising in charity law for guidance on the proper process to be followed and the factors we must consider.
Meetings are being arranged with the Shop Group to begin the process of consulting with the hall committee, with a meeting already scheduled this week. We will look fairly and carefully at the proposal while remembering that, like all trustees, we have a duty to ensure any decision is in the best interests of the hall charity (see role of trustees, here). In other words, that any changes work for user groups and hirers, and help the hall continue its purpose of serving the parish and its vicinity as a recreational, social and entertainment facility.
We also have to be clear on an alternative use for the proposed additional space should a shop cease to trade in the future, as it would be for the hall committee (who can be personally liable for debts of the charity) to administer and maintain. So we will be exploring both the potential benefits as well as risks.
We also have to decide if land needed for the project is surplus to the hall's requirements. If it is, the hall's governing documents may allow us to recommend a lease, subject to approval by the village and the Charity Commission. We will keep the village updated on these important decisions.
The Plunkett Foundation, which helps rural communities to set up and run community-owned shops, sets out points that need to be considered when looking at a village hall as potential premises for a store. You can read the Foundation's advice by clicking HERE.