Demolition Crews Move In On Church Hall site

THE saga surrounding a community centre in Soham was finally brought to a close this week after demolition crews moved on to the site.

St Andrew’s Church Hall at the heart of the town on High Street, has been in limbo since it was sold to developers in 2008 but after two years of planning applications and a major recession, work on demolishing the old hall has finally gone ahead.

Not everyone is happy with the decision however, with some residents concerned that Soham could suffer from the loss of an important community facility.

Soham resident Jackie Hibbert, said: “I think the loss of the hall will be bad for the community in the long run because the town will continue to grow and there won’t be the infrastructure to cope.

“I think something like shops would have been a better option if the hall really had to be demolished but I think the hall should have been looked after in the first place and it wouldn’t have had to have been knocked down.”

Residents said that the hall, which is understood to have been built in the 1920s, has been out of use to the public for about 10 years owing to its poor state of repair and there was concern when the property was bought by Amber Homes Plc back in 2008.

Amber had two applications to build 13 properties on the site refused and subsequently sold the site on to other developers. During 2009 the building was used for bi-monthly auctions until August when local company CJ Murfitt applied to build eight single-storey properties on the site, an application which was granted.

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More than 10-months after permission was formally granted, demolition contractors moved on to the site on Monday and began clearing the hall. No objections were raised by either Soham Town Council (STC) or the local conservation officer to the application by CJ Murfitt though in consultation with the council planners, STC raised concerns that the plans could have included a retail element.