Once-threatened Reading Room in Buxted to get new lease of life

Plans for a new village hall in Buxted have been shelved now that a charity promoting the project has been wound up.

Buxted Parish Council says that it is, instead, planning refurbishment of the Reading Room to enable it to “more properly be Buxted village hall, at least for some years”.

Buxted Reading Room, once threatened with demolition, is now set to be refurbished.

The Reading Room was once threatened with demolition so that a terrace of four homes could be built on the site to help raise funds for the new village hall so this is a complete about turn for its future. See: Plans for four homes on site of Buxted Reading Room.

The council is consulting the community for ideas for Reading Room improvements.

It says disabled access and improved toilet facilities along with a refurbished kitchen are almost certain to be part of the improvements. 

The parish council adds: “Any works will be subject to raising enough money to carry out all, or part of, any planned alterations, albeit the council is prepared to contribute all it can sensibly make available without raising its modest element of the domestic rate bills.”

A survey, which can be accessed here, is being carried out and 850 leaflets have been posted to Buxted residents.

Desirable venue

The council adds: “Once the improvements have taken place the parish council intends to more actively promote the Reading Room (or perhaps more suitably named for the current age), as a desirable venue for a multitude of activities.”

Read more about the parish council’s plans here.

Trustees of Buxted Community Hall Trust who worked for years to get planning permission for a new village hall and to raise funds for the project decided to dissolve the organisation in February 2019.

They gained planning permission to build in December 2014 and work started on foundations in 2017, but legal issues over a lease for the new hall site meant it was still not complete in February 2019.

Disillusioned

Disillusioned members left the board and only four trustees remained. The number couldn’t be increased, and the resigning members couldn’t be replaced, and so the decision was taken to dissolve the charity.

In a report from that time the trustees said that while in 2018 there were about 50 people in the annual general meeting audience expressing support for the new hall, by 2019, this fell away with only about a third of that number attending the agm.

Assets of the charity have been transferred to the Ionides Trust and Buxted Parish Council so that if, in the future, another group emerges which is willing and able to take the project forward, they will be able to do so.

See also:

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Councillors make decision on East Hoathly 205 homes plan

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