Church offers council £1 for chance to demolish and revamp historic community hall

One of the congregations from St Johns Church, Locks Heath, outside the memorial hall
One of the congregations from St Johns Church, Locks Heath, outside the memorial hall

MEMBERS of a church are offering to buy and rebuild a historic hall for £1 in a bid to offer more services to the community.

St John’s Church has offered Fareham Borough Council a pound to buy the dilapidated Locks Heath Memorial Hall which the congregation wants to demolish before rebuilding a new, purpose-built facility.

The vicar, the Rev Gavin Foster, said: ‘Locks Heath Memorial Hall was originally built on a piece of land that was given to the local community by Louis Lynn, the very first churchwarden of our church, 100 years ago.

‘The money for building work was raised through church collections, loans and fundraising activities – so it was always a space that had been created by the local community, in memory of local people who had died in the First World War.’

The council took ownership in the 1960s after the church could no longer carry on subsiding the hall but last year it was put up for sale as a potential plot for housing.

Rev Foster said the council had proposed selling off the site to a developer so a bungalow could be built on the site.

He said: ‘We think that would be a needless and irreversible waste of a community asset, and we think it has a viable and long-term future as a community hub.

‘We also feel that, in the year when we mark 100 years since the end of the First World War, the memory of those who lost their lives in that conflict should be retained in this building – and that the vision of those who created this hall should be respected.’

The church already hires out its own rooms to a variety of groups but regularly has to turn away requests from other potential users and feel the memorial hall would be the perfect solution.

Rev Foster said: ‘A new, modern hall, with disabled access, that is versatile and flexible, and with a kitchen that complies with modern hygiene regulations, could be used by all sorts of local groups.

‘We know there is a demand locally because we often have to turn down requests to use our church’s community rooms.

‘We also know there is a shortage of pre-school places in the area, and a new building could be a safe, welcoming environment for such families.’

The church is asking local residents to contact their councillors if they wish to register their support for a new community hall.

If the bid is successful, the congregation say they will need to fundraise an estimated £400,000 in order to carry out their plans.