Dismay as hall faces axe

Elizabethan Railway Society members Mick Key, Andrew Bonser and Gordon Rush  in front of the building.
Elizabethan Railway Society members Mick Key, Andrew Bonser and Gordon Rush in front of the building.

Campaigners have branded it a “waste” after councillors said a community building in Sutton should be demolished –and the space left empty.

Ashfield District Council has made the decision for the St John Ambulance hall behind Lammas Leisure Centre, after the first aid charity surrendered its lease.

The building will now be removed and the plot left as an open space.

The news has come as a disappointment to members of the Elizabethan Railway Society, who had hoped to take it over in place of their smaller home next door.

Society member Allan Parker, aged 72, said: “We are desperate for space and St John has not used their building in more than two years.

“It is only seven years old and is in superb condition. St John Ambulance was happy to give it to us.

“The fact the council is demolishing it seems like a real waste to me.

“Demolishing for the sake of it seems so strange.

“It is a good building and could be put to good use.

“The council told us we had until July 28 to apply for the plot, but on July 25 the decision had been made to demolish it.”

St John Ambulance had a 99 year lease on the land which was set up in 1967, but the ground has now been returned to the council’s control.

The site itself is held in trust by the council and, due to the terms, the authority is unable to undertake any disposal on the site, which includes granting any new leases or taking back temporary buildings.

Councillor Cheryl Butler, council leader, said: “The site unfortunately has to be demolished.

“St John’s wanted to put everything in to one place and didn’t want to stay on that site and asked to come out of the lease early.

“The plot will stay as it is and unfortunately, because of legal factors, cannot be relet.

“It will be left as an open space.

“I understand it is difficult for people to see the area not in use, but we can’t break the law and must leave it how it is.”

“The council will not pay for the demolition of the cabin as it is in the contract on their lease that they take it down.”

Also on the site, and unaffected, is Ashfield Playcare, a Scouts and Guides Hall and a children’s nursery.