East Anglia RFCA has fully refurbished the Army Cadet hut in Stotfold, Bedfordshire, creating a more welcoming space for Army Cadets and adult volunteers who train there.
The East Anglia RFCA Estates team completed the project in just over eight weeks; a phenomenal turnaround given the extent of the works. Construction firm W G Silverton was awarded the contract to carry out the refurbishment in a competitive tender process.
Externally, the windows were all upgraded to new thermally-efficient double-glazed uPVC windows, replacing the original drafty single-glazed units. Pre-painted timber weatherboarding was added to keep the building looking sharp without the need for future maintenance for years to come.
An old decommissioned tube firing range, which extended into the outdoor space, was removed to provide an additional grassed area for outdoor activity.
The RFCA team also made it easier for the cadets to train outside during the winter months by improving the external lighting, fitting powerful yet energy-efficient LED floodlights. The main entrance gate was also replaced to provide additional security and easier vehicular access into the compact site.
To enable wheelchair access, the team re-located the main entrance to where they could add a ramp and handrails as well as stepped access. Inside also an accessible toilet was installed.
Inside, the office has been enlarged for the instructors, and an extra classroom was added where the old range firing point used to be. The unit only had one classroom until now; having an extra classroom means different ability levels or topics can be more easily accommodated.
The team installed energy-saving LED lighting throughout, replacing doors to fire doors in compliance with current building regulations. The kitchenette area was updated, as were the toilet facilities.
As an additional energy-saving measure, the team installed new electric heaters with timers; so the heating can be set to turn on a few hours before the detachment opening times and turn off again automatically at a set time. This means when the cadets and adults on a cold day, the building is warm and welcoming, and there’s no risk of the heaters accidentally remaining on while the building isn’t in use.
The project is the largest project funded by the RFCA’s self-generated income this year, coming in at £108k. The RFCA Estates team raises funds through applying for non-domestic rate rebates with local councils and through commercial lettings. Usually these funds are used for reactive maintenance to buildings across our six counties; our estate comprises of 500 buildings over 200 sites.
This is a great example of the work the RFCA team carries out throughout the year; adding energy-saving measures, improving access, applying common sense to make the buildings easy to run locally by detachment commanders and making the space altogether welcoming and fit-for-purpose so the cadets, their parents, and the adult volunteers are happy to return week after week, year after year.