Fight to rebuild Druitt Hall ends in disappointment as campaigners refuse three-year lease (From Bournemouth Echo)
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Fight to rebuild Druitt Hall ends in disappointment as campaigners refuse three-year lease
A FIGHT to rebuild Druitt Hall in Christchurch has ended after community campaigners refused a controversial three-year lease from the council.
The group – Druitt Hall Association Ltd – was formed to save the much-loved community centre from demolition and members had been working with the council to provide a new hall.
Celebrations took place earlier this year when outline plans for a new community hall on the site were given the green light by councillors.
But the group were left disappointed when Christchurch council would only offer them a three-year lease at the site under a number of strict conditions.
Agreement over where a new hall would be sited was never finalised, despite council plans for a land swap being abandoned.
Frustrated, campaigners unsuccessfully lobbied not only the council but also Christchurch MP Chris Chope, about the decision.
DHAL had also visited a charity funding fair and concluded that with merely a three year lease normal charity sources seeking at least ten years security of tenure were unable to fund them.
At a meeting held earlier this week, the frustrated group announced there “was no prospect of completing their key ambition, to rebuild in the gardens”.
A statement from the directors Peter Fenning, George Gregory, Nigel Cook and Elliot Marx said: “Despite taking steps to comply with the conditions imposed by the council including registering a Charitable Incorporated Organisation and having sufficient funds to complete the refurbishment, the directors have reluctantly concluded that there is no prospect of completing their key ambition, to rebuild the hall in the gardens.
“We set out to build a new hall, we complied with requirements, there is only one site suitable and available and we can’t use it, we would be locking up charitable funds so we have said no to the three-year lease.
“If any other group want to take over they can.”
Neil Farmer, strategic director at Christchurch Borough Council, said: “We are sorry to hear that the Druitt Hall Association, whom we have been working closely with, have decided not to proceed with our offer of a three year lease for Druitt Hall. The future of Druitt Hall will now be reviewed prior to recommendations being made to the Resources Committee in January.”
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