THE controversial sale of a historic site has led to a £400,000 cash windfall for Bedhampton and Havant.
The former Bedhampton School, which dates back to 1867, was sold by Hampshire County Council after a bid to turn the building into a community centre was turned down.
But the council has decided to reinvest all the cash from the sale of the Grade II-listed building into local community causes.
A total of £100,000 will be spent on much-needed improvements at Bidbury Mead Sports Pavilion, which is used by football and cricket teams.
A further £50,000 has been earmarked for improvements to the play area at Bidbury Mead.
Bedhampton Bowling Club will benefit as £60,000 has been awarded to replace turf at the club, allowing a longer playing season.
A total of £100,000 has been allocated to paying for new toilet facilities at Staunton Country Park, including the installation of a disabled toilet.
And £85,000 has been earmarked for upgrading the area by the Hermitage Stream, including improving cycling and walking routes.
County Councillor Liz Fairhurst, who has fought for the reinvestment in local causes, was delighted.
‘I am very pleased,’ she said.
‘I am delighted where the money is going.
‘They are the kind of things I would welcome – it’s something for the whole community.’
The school became Bedhampton Arts Centre in 1985 and continued until 2010 when all arts services were relocated to The Spring in Havant.
Bedhampton Councillor Jenny Wride battled to convert the building into a community centre.
But the county council turned down her business plan as they said it was not financially viable.
She said: ‘I am very disappointed we are not able to use the old Bedhampton School for community purposes.
‘With all the extra development that is expected in Havant, in my opinion there are not sufficient community facilities.
‘However the proceeds from the sale of the property are being returned to the community to support various projects.
‘The lion’s share is going to be spent in Bedhampton.’
It is understood the building has been bought by a property developer and will be turned into housing.
The exterior of the old school cannot be altered.
Cllr Ken Thornber, leader of Hampshire County Council, said: ‘At a time when we face ongoing financial pressures, it is vital that we continue to deliver value for money for Hampshire taxpayers, and despite the former Bedhampton Arts Centre no longer being operationally useful for the county council, it is an example of where its sale will still deliver benefits to local people.’