A new village hall could still be built in Buxted if a proposal lodged by parish councillors gets the go-ahead.
The village’s aim to build the community hall on Ionides land – bequeathed to the community – fell foul of the controversial ruling which bans any development within seven kilometres of the Ashdown Forest.
Now councillors hope they can steer a route through the planning maze by applying for a lawful development certificate to allow an extension to the village’s Reading Room.
If permission is granted it would mean the Reading Room could be removed, the site left bare and a new hall built. This ‘land swap’ could prove a legitimate solution to the problem of a critical shortage of public space in the village.
Parish Council chairman Vivienne Blandford said: “People are travelling elsewhere to do things they used to do in Buxted. They could walk here, now they are using their cars which means even more traffic pollution. It’s illogical.”
She cited Friday Zumba classes which became too popular for the space in the Reading Room and must now be held outside the village.
“The village has also grown substantially in previous years with a large new estate of homes in the pipeline and the Ashdown Park development on the former Buxted Chicken processing site,” she said.
The new hall had been planned to occupy space close to the village’s new medical centre, so visitors could walk from one to the other. A permitted development certificate application would ‘effectively increase the floor area of the Reading Room to then transfer to the new site’ according to council papers.The application calls for a single storey extension allowing new loos and storage space.