Maidstone Council Removes Community Asset List for Headcorn Methodist Church
Activists wanting to save their village church have received a heavy blow following a change of council.
Maidstone Council intended to list part of the now redundant Headcorn Methodist Church as a community asset, giving residents the option to purchase it and protect it from development.
The Heart of Headcorn community group has been busy raising funds since September when the decision was announced.
But now they have learned that the authority must reverse its position following a review.
The community property list, which only applied to the classroom behind the premises, led Methodist Church administrators who own the building to remove it from a scheduled auction and gave activists six months to raise the purchase price.
But as villagers raised £ 20,000 through events that included a mega raffle, the Headcorn History Show, a Monty Python Silly Walk-style village and an online Christmas shop, church administrators have as to them appealed against the list.
Just before Christmas, council director of regeneration and places, William Cornall, announced the outcome of his review of the earlier ruling. He accepted the argument put forward by the church administrators that the building could only be listed in part, and accepted the argument that the classroom was an integral part of the whole building.
He said: “I conclude that the building is clearly interconnected and seamless, a single entity, and as such, the church hall cannot function independently of the classroom, kitchen and restroom. “
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Tim Thomas, President of Heart of Headcorn, said: “There were several funding opportunities available to us – just last week, for example, we were talking to the National Lottery – but these roads close every time the building is closed. threatens. “
The Heart of Headcorn wants to convert the church, which dates from 1867, into a community center that includes an educational space, a mindfulness center, a museum, a sustainability center, a youth club and a food bank.
Mr Thomas said: “Many of us studied in the classroom, supervised by dedicated volunteers like Elizabeth Hall. The church helped feed and clothe the poor and we would take all the children on a bus. down to Dymchurch – we would never have seen the sea otherwise. Over the years the building has helped so many ”.
News of the removal from the community’s asset list has been a particularly hard blow at a time when lockdown restrictions are making fundraising events more difficult, but campaign spokeswoman Bella Mansfield has said said, “If anyone thinks that we will fight this hard, for such a long time, then give up, they are very wrong.
“This building, which was built with so much love, dedication and hard work, must continue to serve the community, as its creators intended.”
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