Local organisations have celebrated the official opening of a fully refurbished and renovated community centre in Old Woking by the Mayor of Woking, Cllr Ilyas M Raja, on Wednesday 8 November 2023.
Following the works, Old Woking Community Centre (OWCC) in Sundridge Road now boasts an extensive two storey extension. Renovations include a refurbished main hall, new dance studio and specialist dance floor, lifts making the upper floors accessible to all, new children’s nursery, café and toilet facilities.
Additionally, five air source heat pumps, triple glazed external windows, fully insulated roof with solar panels and a host of energy saving measures ensures the building is energy efficient and sustainable.
Outside, the centre benefits from a newly marked car park with electric vehicle charge points and secure cycle storage.
Thanks to a partnership agreement, the centre is also home to Woking College’s performing arts department. Featuring state-of-the-art specialist music, drama and dance teaching rooms that create a unique vocational learning experience.
Works began in November 2022, prior to Woking Borough Council issuing a Section 114 Notice in June 2023 in response to its financial situation.
Whilst owned by Woking Borough Council, Old Woking Community Centre is run as a registered charity and leased to a dedicated group of trustees. The centre supports cultural, educational and social community activities, with many local groups calling the centre home.
Tracey Nunn, Old Woking Community Centre Trustee, said: “We are delighted with our fantastic new building. This project has transformed our rundown and outdated building into an amazing new space for the local community. We now offer new services, such as a warm hub in the café area.
“Without funding from Surrey County Council’s Your Fund Surrey and Woking Borough Council, what we see today would not have been achieved. We really look forward to a beneficial relationship with our new neighbours Woking College.”
Brett Freeman, Principal of Woking College, said how delighted he was to work with Old Woking Community Centre and Woking Brough Council to significantly enhance provision for the local community and to develop truly outstanding facilities for the College’s performing arts department. Alongside that, “the opportunity to forge closer ties with groups beyond the College gates can surely only be a good thing for us all.”
Cllr Will Forster, Woking Borough Council’s Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for the Voluntary Sector, said: “This fantastic new facility in the heart of my ward of Hoe Valley brings both the community and local college together under one roof.
“I am delighted this unique community project has been possible thanks to a generous grant from Surrey County Council’s Your Fund Surrey, Woking Borough Council Community Infrastructure Levy funding and a substantial contribution from Woking College.
“Residents and students are already benefiting from the refurbished centre and will do so for many years to come. Congratulations and well done to everyone involved with this fantastic project.”
Cllr Denise Turner-Stewart, Surrey County Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Customer and Communities, said: "What a transformation! The refurbished community centre has replaced an old building with a welcoming hub which will serve the whole community with activities and a place to be.
“We’re delighted to have supported this project, with the centre receiving just over £1 million from Your Fund Surrey’s Large Community Projects Fund. It’s fantastic to see that residents are already putting the centre to good use and I’m sure it will only go from strength to strength.”
The project was funded through a £1,454,787 Community Infrastructure Levy grant from Woking Borough Council, £1,080,628 Surrey County Council Your Fund Surrey grant and a £750,000 contribution from Woking College.
Guests at the official opening included Jonathan Lord MP; Mayor of Woking, Cllr Ilyas M Raja; Deputy Leader of Woking Borough Council, Will Forster; Brett Freeman, Principal of Woking College; Old Woking Community Centre and Woking College Trustees; representatives from Your Fund Surrey, the architect, Penfold Associates, main contractor, MCS, and Woking Borough Council.
For more information please visit the Old Woking Community Centre website.