Campaign fury after hall is sld

PUBLISHED: 11:13 28 February 2008 | UPDATED: 22:01 03 May 2010

ST Andrew s Church hall campaigners were dealt a duble blw this week as the site was finally sld t develpers and East Cambridgeshire District Cuncil frmally cnfirmed they culd nt endrse the site fr cmmunity use. Church authrities sld the bu

ST Andrew's Church hall campaigners were dealt a duble blw this week as the site was finally sld t develpers and East Cambridgeshire District Cuncil frmally cnfirmed they culd nt endrse the site fr cmmunity use.

Church authrities sld the building t Gdmanchester-based husing develper Amber Hmes fr an undisclsed sum earlier this mnth.

Mney frm the sale must, accrding t church law, be used t repair St Andrew's Church itself.

Rf repairs are expected t cst apprximately £350,000 and any cash left ver frm the hall sale will be used t create a meeting space at the back f the building.

St Andrew's Church hall has std empty fr mre than 10 years, but despndent campaigners are refusing t back dwn and have annunced they will ppse any planning applicatin frm Amber Hmes.

"It's a sad, sad day fr Sham," said campaigner Clin Frdham. "Any planning applicatin put in by the develper will be ppsed by us."

East Cambridgeshire District Cuncil's cmmunity services cmmittee supprted saving the hall fr cmmunity use mre than a year ag, but at a meeting last week, Cmmunity Hall Trust member Jhn Palmer, himself a frmer cuncillr, tk the district cuncil t task ver its withdrawal f supprt.

Mr Palmer claims East Cambridgeshire District Cuncil gave an assurance at a meeting in December 2006 that the hall wuld be given t the cmmunity fr parking. He said: "The district cuncil seem t be ging back n their pledge."

He is als disappinted that the district cuncil vted t turn a prpsed review f St Andrew's Church hall, int a general audit f cmmunity facilities in the twn, after church authrities annunced its sale.

Since December, tw cnsultants emplyed thrugh a £5,000 grant t Sham Twn Cuncil have been cnducting the review, but the audit cncerns nly halls and facilities that are in use. Since St Andrew's Church Hall is nt in use, it has nt been included.

Jhn Hill, chief executive f East Cambridgeshire District Cuncil, said: "The cuncil cannt re-affirm its decisin made in December 2006 fr a number f reasns. There has been a significant change in circumstances since the riginal decisin in December 2006, primarily the sale f the site by the parchial church cuncil in February 2007, fllwing a number f deferments f the acceptance f ffers."

St Andrews' vicar Tim Alban Jnes tld the Ely Standard that the mney frm the sale f the church hall must legally be used fr the "re-rdering f the church."

An £80,000 grant has been btained frm English Heritage t tp up the church's repair fund.

Jhn Hill said he believed a planning applicatin fr the site was "imminent," and the cmpleted reprt int Sham's cmmunity facilities will be made public at the end f April.

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