Refit to close hall

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A popular and well-used Donside hall is to close for refurbishment on Monday (April 11).

Millbank Hall, at Millbank, near Cluny, will be refurbished in two phases, the first of which gets underway next week.

The hall is already financially-viable but the project aims to make the hall more accessible and user-friendly for the wider community.

The proposed works include a new kitchen and serving area, a new storage area, new toilet facilities including disabled toilet, improvements to energy efficiency, re-decoration and improved access for wheelchair users and baby buggies, rewiring and insulation.

Community engagement has been at the core of the project’s development and extensive consultation has been undertaken.

It is hoped the improvements will benefit existing users of the hall and attract a wide range of new user groups leading to increased usage and enhanced sustainability, ensuring its financial viability.

It is seen as an important community facility serving a widespread but expanding scattered rural community.

The total cost of the entire project is £81,297.

Funding towards the project was received as follows: LEADER funding £35,000, Planning gain £3,000, Garioch Area Top-Up Grant £5,000, Aberdeenshire Council Education, Leisure and Learning £18,000.

The community raised £20,000 through a number of well-supported fundraising events,.

These included regular concerts organised by the 12-strong Millbank Hall committee.

Committee secretary Sylvia Henry said: “Next week, all our fundraising over the years will come to fruition, as the hall is closing for alterations.

“We are indebted to the public who have supported us over the years.

“This has been a long and hard process, and we want to prove to them that we are using their money wisely.

“We have had a lot of knock-backs along the way, but it was either that, or close the hall.

“We are really excited to get the go-ahead the committee is now anxiously awaiting the outcome of Cluny Estate’s planning application, which includes disabled parking and a car park level with the hall, to improve access.”

Mrs Henry said they hoped the hall, which was gifted to the community in 1956 by Cluny Estate, would be open again in August.

“The hall is currently used by a mums and toddlers group, a dance class, a circuit training class, Cluny SWRI, whist and bowling clubs, as well as for parties, craft fairs and plant sales,” she said. “It is a well-loved hall!”