Surveyor called in amid battle to save hall from demolition
- Credit: Ben Hardy
Villagers desperate to save their local hall from being flattened and converted into a home have taken matters into their own hands.
Campaigners in Arminghall have called in a chartered surveyor to assess the structure of the village hall in an attempt to save it.
It is in response to Caistor St Edmund and Bixley Parish Council, which owns the hall, submitting a planning application to replace the building with a swish new two-bedroom chalet bungalow.
The hall has been closed since 2019 when it was deemed unfit for purpose by the council.
It was previously used for various social events in the village including bingo, fish and chips and quiz nights.
Chartered surveyor Frank Davey, of Allgood and Davey, spent an hour inspecting the hall after the parish council agreed to unlock the hall for the villagers.
After the inspection, Mr Davey said: "I can see what the fuss is about as it is obviously a heritage asset and quite an elderly building which is a landmark for the village."
The inspection findings will be fed back to parishioners in due course.
Cavell Turner, who has been leading the campaign to save the hall, said: "Hopefully the surveyor will support our position to retain the hall. The parish council is determined this is not for saving and beyond repair.
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"But we do not think it's anything as bad as they do."
The council has said the decision will be an economical one.
Les Dawson, 86, lives opposite the hall and was responsible for maintenance of the building.
"When I first moved here 22 years ago the village hall was well-used.
"I don't know what to make of what is going on," he added.
If the plans go ahead, the bench and village sign nearby would be relocated.
Steven Matthews, 64, who built the base for the sign, said: "We were brought up here and all three children came to the hall as youngsters.
"It would be such a sad thing for it to go."
Parishioner Albion Turner, 43, said: "I am going to be living here for the rest of my life and I would rather this on my doorstep than a chalet bungalow."
What has the parish council said?
A statement from the parish council said: "We are continuing to look at whether it is economical for the current hall to be restored to meet current regulations for hire as a community venue, which would include structural work, electrical work, treatment of woodworm and the addition of a toilet and kitchen.
"We have also put in a planning application for a two-bedroomed property to be built on the village hall site, to see if there is an option to sell the site to maximise its value and raise money for a new community facility. No decision has yet been made.
"We are happy to meet and discuss this further with parishioners."
There is a vacancy on the parish council for those eligible to apply.