When news happens send us your pictures, video and views. Text BE to 80360 or contact us by email
People power saves Druitt Hall from demolition
A BATTLE to save a beloved community hall in Christchurch has been won after councillors refused plans to demolish it.
Members of Christchurch Borough Council’s planning control committee went against their own officers and refused the application to demolish it and replace it with a landscaped area, which included a tall sculpture, areas of seating and new trees.
More than 100 triumphant campaigners who have fought tirelessly to save the hall, packed out the council chamber to hear the decision on the council’s own application to its planning department.
Objectors had submitted a petition with more than 1,000 signatures as well as sending in 200 letters opposing the scheme.
During the meeting, planning consultant James Cain, representing the Friends of Druitt Hall and supported by Dr Alistair Somerville Ford, who has offered to fund a new hall, told councillors the Friends were working towards submitting their own planning application by the end of next month.
He told members a business plan was also being drawn up to support the hall and emerging application and said alternative facilities mooted by the council did not have the “same accessibility, affordability, or availability that Druitt Hall currently offers.”
Councillors were told permission for a replacement hall, approved back in 2008, said the hall should not be demolished until a replacement was built.
Mayor of Christchurch, Cllr Peter Hall, who proposed that the application be refused, said: “These are not detailed plans. these are very poorly presented and neither I or the other ward councillor are happy and can’t support them.
“Over 1,000 residents have signed a petition and 200 have written letters.
“Someone has agreed to fund a new hall and maintain the construction for three years.
“I have it on good authority that a room in the library will only cater for 35 and not be alternative accommodation.
“This demolition should be refused.”
His speech was met with cheers by the room of supporters.
Following the meeting, Elliot Marx, one of the Friends of Druitt Hall, said: “We are absolutely delighted the council have listened to us.