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Burford community hall appeal passes £1m mark
BURFORD church leaders have already raised more than £1m towards a new community hall.
St John the Baptist Church won planning permission in April to expand nearby Warwick Hall, in Church Lane, to create the hall.
The work is expected to cost £3m but the church has already raised £1.2m, including an anonymous £400,000 donation from a church member.
The Rev Richard Coombs, who is behind the plans, said: “It is just thrilling and we are so excited to have raised 40 per cent of our total.
“It shows we are a very strong Christian community here in Burford and that the congregation are really putting their money where their mouths are for the greater good of the community.”
Apart from £100,000 from the Falkland Hall Trust, a charity for the benefit of Burford, all the money has been raised by church members.
Mr Coombs said: “The next step is to go beyond the church community, into the wider community, and approach trusts and other funds.
“It’s easy to start a campaign but it’s hard to finish it. But if we could have 90 per cent pledged by this time next year, we would be able to start the building.”
The church will also hold fundraising activities next year and, if the money is found, the hall could be open in two years.
Mr Coombs said: “I hope the hall will be the shop front of the church. It will be where church staff are based and where people can find us.
“It will have a whole host of church and community activities going on, from day centres and mums’ and toddlers’ groups to parties and celebrations.
“Burford does not have a suitable meeting place at the moment and I hope this will bring the church and community closer together.”
The project will see the existing hall refurbished and the creation of a new 200-seat hall, meeting rooms, cafe and toilets.
But the original plan, submitted last year, prompted complaints from residents about a proposed large window overlooking the churchyard.
They were concerned about a loss of privacy and described the design as “insensitive”.
Mr Coombs said: “It was a really focused – and I think legitimate – concern about the preservation and peace and tranquility of the churchyard.
“I think the large glass into the churchyard was a step too far and once we took away the window and lowered the roof, it dispelled most of the concerns.”