Northamptonshire’s village halls encouraged to ‘go green’

Posted 17th March 2024

Rural community buildings across the county will be considering how they can save energy and work with groups in their community to contribute to Net Zero next week as part of a national campaign led by Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE).

Run almost entirely by volunteers, village halls are a cornerstone of rural community life in Northamptonshire providing what are often the only spaces where people can meet and socialise locally. They also sustain many livelihoods connected with use of the venue.

But over the past couple of years many halls have struggled to meet increasing energy bills – indeed many buildings are old, off the gas grid and difficult to heat.

Campaign organisers, including local charity Northamptonshire ACRE believe there is great potential to connect these concerns with broader action to address the climate emergency.

Village Halls Week 2024 (18 – 24 March) is a call to action with management committees being encouraged to consider how they can ‘go green!’ – to safeguard their own future, and that of the wider environment.

On Monday 18 March, a livestream will launch the publication of a new design guide produced by Stagg Architects which offers practical advice on retrofitting halls to reduce energy consumption and dependency on fossil fuels. It features the efforts of six pioneering halls who have done just that – improving insulation, replacing heating systems and even generating their own electricity. It is hoped that with the recent £5m uplift in grant funding announced by the Chancellor in the Spring Budget will help many more communities undertake such works.

The campaign is also encouraging village halls to work with and provide a space for environmentally minded groups and initiatives – from repair clubs, conservation volunteers to refill stations.

Across England, over 250 village halls are expected to host open days and events to mark their involvement in the campaign.  Many will be using this as an opportunity to engage local residents in their work and their plans for ‘going green’.

Northamptonshire ACRE is a member of the ACRE Network that provides support and advice to village halls groups locally. Frances Harris said, “We are looking forward to supporting this year’s campaign. We will be holding a networking event for trustees, volunteers and others involved in the running of community buildings on Wednesday 18 March.  This will be a great opportunity to share ideas about how to help a community building go green.”