AN 80-YEAR-OLD ‘crinkly tin’ former village hall that has played host to famous musicians is facing demolition to make way for new homes, despite a campaign to save it for community use.
Developers who have bought the site have applied to remove the corrugated metal building in Garway and replace it with two houses.
And if planners give the go ahead, it will be the second old former community building in a matter of months to have its death warrant signed, after a farmer who owns the old Victorian school won a contentious planning battle to replace it with hardstanding.
The village’s new energy efficient Passivhaus community hall was opened in 2018 on the other side of the road.
And the village hall trustees then moved to sell the old site to raise funds to buy the new hall’s land and pay off debts.
But some villagers opposed the move to sell it for development, saying the hall was a ‘cultural icon’ that had hosted concerts by the likes of Linda Lee Lewis, Amy Wadge and the Incredible String Band’s Robin Williamson.
They launched a campaign to try and buy it, while Banksy-style graffiti of two rats, one with a briefcase and umbrella, another with a white flag appeared on the door alongside a wrecking ball.
But Flutterby Ltd of Forest Hill in London has now acquired the site and applied to replace the tin hall with two three-bedroomed cottages.
Two years ago, campaigners launched a Save Garway Hall fundraising campaign, posting: “Our 1930s “tin shack” village hall is facing sale and demolition, but we have the chance to save and share it by turning it into an arts centre/bunk house.
“We have raised £40,000, but need more, so have started a crowd funder.”
The trustees then put it up for sale saying they would look for a sympathetic buyer who was offering some community benefit through tourism use, small business development, enhanced cultural provision or residential development.
Campaigner Cara Campbell said when launching the bid to save the hall two years ago that it could have a new life as an arts centre with holiday accommodation.
“This hall is a cultural icon; It was named as Borderline film festival’s favourite venue,” she said at the time.
“It was praised by the world class musicians who performed here, including Linda Lee Lewis and Amy Wadge.
“And its rural charm inspired Bruce Chatwin when he came here in the late 1970s, researching his novel ‘On the Black Hill’.
“It’s been cared for by generations of villagers for nearly 100 years and we don’t want this part of our heritage consigned to landfill when it could be reused for social, educational and environmental benefit.”