Future options outlined for Stimpson’s Piece pavilion

The maintenance of the pavilion at Stimpson’s Piece costs Reepham’s taxpayers up to 20% of the town’s total annual budget. This is not sustainable in the long term and options are being considered for the future of this community resource.

Pavilion in the park or ‘the elephant in the room’? Photo: John Tym www.tympix.com

According to Reepham Town Council, who are the trustees of Stimpson’s Piece, the current annual income from renting/hiring the pavilion roughly covers the direct operating costs, such as lighting/ power, heating, water and insurance.
What are not covered are one-off costs for essential maintenance, which can amount to £20,000 in any one year.
There has been heavy expenditure on the building over the past two years, with last year being “exceptional”. Moreover, the roof and guttering may need to be repaired/replaced within the next 5-10 years.
Given in trust to the town in the 1980s, Stimpson’s Piece comprises a recreation ground with a multi-sports pitch, football pitches, children’s play area, skate-park and woodlands. The pavilion features a large hall with bar and kitchen facilities. There are also sports facilities, including changing rooms.
Constructed in the mid-1990s, the multi- purpose pavilion is currently the home of Reepham Town Football Club and Reepham Nursery School, and is used by other community groups including Surestart, the baby clinic and the indoor bowls club. It is also being hired for private functions and for Zumba, Chilsong, slimming and keep-fit classes.
However, many users argue the outdated building is no longer fit for purpose and lacks appropriate amenities. For example, the Nursery School management committee has made it clear the facilities do not meet the needs of a modern nursery, particularly with regard to Ofsted requirements, and it is currently investigating a new purpose-built building.
It is understood that plans are well under way to create such a space, which would most likely be situated away from Stimpson’s Piece and logically nearer the Primary School; this could mean the Nursery School moving within the next couple of years.
This would have serious financial consequences as, according to the Town Council, the Nursery School, which uses the pavilion every weekday during term, is the major source of user income financing the pavilion.
This would leave the Football Club as the main tenant and user of Stimpson’s Piece. However, its programme sometimes restricts the ability to hire out the facility to other users.
The patterns of use of Stimpson’s Piece have changed over the years and so the original ambition of having all sports facilities in the one location has faded: the cricket club has moved to Salle, the tennis club now has its own facilities elsewhere on Stimpson’s Piece, the women’s hockey club plays home matches at Taverham and the bowls club seems content at Townsend Court.
Situated away from the town centre, the pavilion has tried to be many different things. However, alternative uses are made more difficult because Reepham is awash with public and other buildings that offer space for community activities and are more central.
The reality of reduced income against increasing maintenance and improvement costs at Stimpson’s Piece has become a matter of concern to the Town Council. It is, as one councillor described it, “the elephant in the room”. No one wants to talk about it, but many people would be up in arms if drastic changes were made.
A major stumbling block to improving the situation is the severe legal restrictions of the trust deed that requires the pavilion to be for the use of all the community. Consequently, no extension to the existing building or separate building can be built to meet the specific needs of one part of the community.
The trustees are now actively looking for opportunities to increase the use of the facilities, particularly by local community groups, and are also seeking ways in which the existing facilities can be improved to meet more modern requirements.
An initial study by Ingham Pinnock Associates has identified the following options for Stimpson’s Piece:

  • do nothing;
  • increase hiring rates and increase use;
  • create a capital endowment, for example, by selling off any other local assets to create a fund for future maintenance;
  • refurbish the pavilion;
  • replace the pavilion;
  • remove the pavilion.

The Town Council has undertaken a building condition survey and is currently investigating these initial options.
Town Council chairman Les Paterson said: “We have the resources to keep the building going as it is for the next 2-3 years. Any longer and there would need to be additional contingency funds for Stimpson’s Piece.
“The community as a whole needs to know what the current and future situation is; ultimately it is their decision. There are lots of questions to be answered, in particular, how to make the best use of taxpayers’ money.”
However, so far Stimpson’s Piece has yet to form its own management committee and there has been little interest shown from most sections of the community.
“We are looking for more input,” said Mr Paterson. “We want people to take an interest, and to come along and use the facility and get involved in running the place.”
What should the trustees, Reepham Town Council, do with the pavilion on Stimpson’s Piece? Email Reepham Life, contact us or answer our poll (above right)
See our earlier news story:


Stimpson's Piece pavilion, Reepham. Photo: John Tym www.tympix.com

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