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Groups fear sale of hall will mean village 'will die'

By Edenbridge Courier  |  Posted: November 18, 2011

FACING DEMOLITION: The St Paulinus Community Centre, Marlpit Hill, could soon be reduced to a pile of bricks if development plans go ahead. Children from the pre-school have used the centre for 30 years. Some of these are pictured with their leaders Maggie Sinclair, Ruth Hasson and Annette Cousins

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MARLPIT Hill will be dead if a plan to sell the church hall goes ahead, according to locals.

St Paulinus Pre-School Group is among the organisations that have been told the hall is to be sold, meaning the end for them in Marlpit Hill.

Pre-school leader Annette Cousins said: "The last thing we want to do is move."

Mrs Cousins added that other groups, including those offering judo, tai chi, dancing, stamp collecting and painting would also be forced to close or move.

She said: "If we're forced to go then the village will die."

Besides being used by the clubs, the hall can also be booked for private functions.

Mrs Cousins said efforts to get help from the church had so far failed, but said villagers were not going to give up.

"We're going to fight this," she said.

"We've got parents getting petitions together and we won't let this happen."

Parents at the nursery, which currently has ten children, were very concerned about the plans, she added.

Diocese of Rochester spokesman Louise Whiffin said the Parochial Church Council at Edenbridge's St Peter and St Paul was considering the future of the church at Marlpit Hill.

She added: "The council has now decided that it no longer requires the property for its own use."

She said the law required the church council to sell the building at the best price or let the property at full market rent.

The body has decided to explore the possibility of selling the hall site for redevelopment.

Ms Whiffin said: "Although the proposals are at an early stage, the council is investigating what alternative premises might be available locally to re-house existing user groups should planning consent be granted for the redevelopment of the hall site."

Mrs Cousins said the possibility of being moved into Edenbridge would mean being close to three other pre-school groups and that it would "defeat the purpose of having a pre-school at Marlpit Hill".

"We've been here such a long time and we've sort of grown with the building," she said.

"This hall is a big part of the community and we don't want to lose it."

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