By Grainne Cuffe, local democracy reporter
Families are worried about the future of a community hall in South London after learning it could be sold to a developer.
The Livesey Memorial Hall, which is home to a monument commemorating workers from the South Suburban Gas Company of London who died in both World Wars, is a Grade II listed building and an asset of community value.
The Sydenham venue in Bell Green hosts various community, sports, and social events.
Kier Property, which owns the building and land, confirmed it was “possibly” looking to sell, but said it “doesn’t expect” the use of the hall to change.
But locals fear that if a property developer builds flats on the surrounding land noise complaints could make its community use unviable.
Local resident Julia Webb said: “It’s a community hall at the heart of local life and it is unthinkable that we lose it to a property developer.
“We need the tennis courts, and other sports grounds, and the boxing gym does great youth work at minimal cost to parents. We just can’t lose it.”
She is fundraising for a legal team to fight any sale and claims locals should have a right to bid for an asset of community value.
But the council denied this is the case.
A Lewisham Council spokesperson said: “The Livesey Memorial Hall is a much loved and valued community space, recognised as an asset of community value by the council.
“Officers were made aware of a proposed sale of the building and have made contact with the owner.
“We have confirmed that the sale is not one which requires formal notification to the council nor would it give rise to the ‘community right to bid’ that applies only to vacant freehold sales of assets of community value.
“The council will continue to support the community who want to see this important asset retained and available for their use.”
Local residents dispute this.
Julia added: “We are crowdfunding for independent legal advice, exactly because the community expects no support from Lewisham in anything.”
Bellingham Councillor Alan Hall joined residents at the Livesey on September 19.
He said: “It was great to see the local community coming together to support all the work that goes on at the Livesey Hall including the boxing club.
“Now more than ever we need versatile community spaces – we will fight for it.”
A Kier spokesperson said: “We are exploring options for Livesey Memorial Hall, including the possibility of selling the whole site and we have informed Lewisham Council of this.
“Currently, the hall is let for community use and we don’t expect this to change.”
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.