Spirits are running high in a Kent village after a community campaign to save a village church from developers took a step forward.
Villagers in the Heart of Headcorn group want to see the disused Methodist Church in the centre of the village turned into a community centre for clubs and societies; including a badly needed youth club and an innovative sustainability hub, in memory of the late Penny Kemp.
Plans also include a pop-up museum, community learning and a mindfulness space.
The Methodist church authorities have twice put the building up for sale by auction, with a guide price of £130,000 to £135,000, but both times ended up withdrawing it after villagers submitted applications to have the building listed as an asset of community value (ACV). Although an ACV application was accepted for the rear part of the building by Maidstone Borough Council in September last year, the borough subsequently removed the listing after an appeal by the Methodists.
Campaigners have now submitted a new application, however, with the assistance of senior planning barrister Gregory Jones QC, which is currently before the council.
Kent County Councillors Shellina Prendergast, ward borough councillors Martin Round and Ziggy Trzebinski and the MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, Helen Whately have all voiced their support for the campaign.
In addition, Headcorn Parish Council has voted unanimously to back the campaigners and is seeking village approval for a public works loan to hasten the purchase of the church.
The church, which was built in 1867, but has been disused since January last year, was listed for auction with Clive Emson on Wednesday, February 9.
This week, the Heart of Headcorn revealed that they have now made a formal offer to the Methodist trustees via their solicitors to purchase the building at above the original asking price. They are also organising a ‘Sponsored Singathon’ to raise funds and are keen to hear from any willing singers in the Headcorn area. Email Bella Mansfield on email@example.com
Donations to the cause can also be made via a GoFundMe page here.