£200,000 rebuild of old church hall set to begin
PUBLISHED: 08:00 23 June 2019
A former church hall is set to rise from the ashes - nearly nine years after it was gutted in a fire.
Work will begin this summer to completely rebuild the Meeting Place, in Newton Poppleford, after the community successfully raised £200,000 for the new building.
Churchwarden Haylor Lass says he can still remember the moment, on August 8, 2010, when he was told that fire had ripped through the hall and firefighters were working to stop the flames from spreading into the roof.
Mr Lass said: "It took nearly a year to start the project and to deal with insurance and we were asking 'was it repairable or a write off?' We have had a few hiccups to say the least."
For the last nine years, the church has had to create a make shift kitchen at the side of the church. Churchgoers have also been forced to walk up to the public loos in the car park as the old toilets were in the hall.
When the building is complete, the church will look to furnish it with a serving area with tables and chairs and finally have access to toilets.
John Sheaves, treasurer for the PCC, said: "It's been the last nine to 12 months that we have really put a big effort in. We couldn't properly start fundraising until we had a realistic plan of the building to show people what it would be like and how much it was going to cost."
Currently a hole has been dug out to allow the new build to be on the same level as St Luke's Church for easy access.
Mr Lass said: "We are hoping that the work which will impinge most on the car park, involving large lorries and cranes - concrete foundations and floor slab, delivery and placing of timber-framed wall units, etc - will happen during the school summer holidays when the car park is less frantically busy."
The church council has begun discussions with the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) and English Heritage to agree if a link between the hall and the church, can be built.