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Residents' bid to save village hall

PUBLISHED: 14:06 04 March 2009 | UPDATED: 15:42 16 August 2010

FURIOUS residents have rallied together to stop the demolition of their village hall which has served the community for 70 years. The Cudham village parish building, in Cudham Lane South is owned by the Dioceses of Rochester, which plans to knock it dow

FURIOUS residents have rallied together to stop the demolition of their village hall which has served the community for 70 years.

The Cudham village parish building, in Cudham Lane South is owned by the Dioceses of Rochester, which plans to knock it down and use the land to build a new rectory, after selling their old one last year.

But villagers claim they have helped maintain the building with donations and are determined to stop the planning application, which is expected to be submitted to Bromley council within the next few weeks.

Leading the residents, Peter Martin, 61, of Cudham Lane South, said: "This is not a NIMBY thing. This is the centre of our village and they want to knock it down. But we are absolutely determined not to let them.

"The Diocese sold their old rectory and made in excess of £1 million. They are just being greedy.

"They say that 17 houses for sale in the Cudham area were considered but none proved to be suitable for a vicar. These are five bedroom houses, what does a vicar need five bedrooms for?"

The residents are proposing to set up a charity to take over the maintenance of the building and have pledged to hold fundraising events to pay for restoring the building to its former glory.

At a public meeting last month, 50 villagers vote in favour of saving the hall with just one in favour of the church's plans.

Various groups use the hall such as the Women's Institute and a lunch club but Mr Martin says they would like more community and youth events to take place there.

He said: "There are more children in the village now so we want to have a youth club. The Dioceses has let the building fall by the wayside and starved it of resources.

"We are launching a vigorous campaign to save the hall. It would be a devastating loss if the council grants permission to knock it down. I hope their chances are very slim."

A spokesperson for the Dioceses of Rochester said: "For a number of years, the Diocese and the local church had been considering the replacement of the parsonage house which was overly large and no-longer meeting contemporary needs.

"A number of options for a replacement house were explored, but finally the decision was taken to sell the property and seek planning consent to build a replacement house on the site currently occupied by the aging church hall.

"We recognise that there are some people in the community who have strong feelings about the loss of the church hall. The hall is principally used for the provision of lunches for the over 60s, by the WI and for a monthly whist drive. Regrettably, we consider that the church hall is no-longer fit for purpose.

"As part of the proposed replacement, the Diocese will be releasing funds to the parishes of Cudham and Downe, to enable them to re-order the interior of St Peter and St Paul, Cudham and St Mary's, Downe to provide greatly enhanced facilities.

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