Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Hampshire County Council have responded to reports that a community centre in the town might not reopen.

As previously reported, Westside Community Centre, based in Paddock Road, was closed on Thursday, September 7 after dangerous concrete that is prone to collapse was found in the community library part of the building.

The centre was closed after reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) panels were found in South Ham Community Library, owned by Hampshire County Council, and Westside Community Centre, owned by Basingstoke and Deane Borough.

READ PREVIOUS: Westside Community Centre closes after dangerous concrete found

RAAC is a lightweight, bubbly form of concrete that is usually found on roofs and occasionally on walls and floors but is known to be weak and less durable.

The material was favoured in construction projects because of its lightweight thermal properties.

Basingstoke Gazette: Westside Community CentreWestside Community Centre (Image: Mark Paine)

After the centre was closed a number of groups and clubs were forced to relocate to other community centres and meeting places.

There has been concern and rumour within the South Ham community that after the closure, the centre might not reopen, although Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Hampshire County Council have responded to say the centre will remain closed 'while investigations continue.'

Cabinet Member for Communities, Partnerships and Inclusion, Cllr John McKay, said: “We know how important Westside Community Centre is to the community of South Ham and understand how frustrated residents and users of the centre are that the building remains closed.

SEE ALSO: Future of community centre remains uncertain as closure continues

“Following further investigation after the discovery of RAAC in the building, there are a number of options that we need to consider, alongside Hampshire County Council who own part of the building, which could include carrying out necessary repairs to the building or the potential to re-provide a facility in the short and longer term for the benefit of the community.

“Unfortunately, this work will take some time and that is why we have been working closely with Westside Community Association to ensure the continuation of vital services at alternative locations, including the pre-school, community food pantry and other clubs and support groups, so they can continue to benefit the local community.

"We are also continuing to look at temporary premises, such as nearby retail units and temporary facilities, that could be used to provide other services and activities while investigations continue.”

A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said: “Since the discovery of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) within an area of South Ham Community Library in September last year (2023), we have been working with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to undertake further structural surveys and assessments of the whole site.

"The community library section of the building is owned by the County Council, whilst Westside Community Centre is owned by the Borough Council. Over this time, the whole building has had to close as a precautionary measure whilst appropriate plans can be developed. All community activity has been able to take place elsewhere in the meantime.

"We appreciate this ongoing situation is an inconvenience for residents and we are working with the Borough Council to find a solution as soon as possible.”