Sunday, March 11, 2012

Oxford college plans to deprive Tur Langton of its village hall

This is Tur Langton village hall. It's not a thing of beauty, but in an age when there are so few facilities in most villages beyond private housing for the affluent, it is important to the community.

According to a report in the Leicester Mercury, the land the hall occupies may soon be redeveloped for housing by its landlord Merton College, Oxford. (Those who watched Michael Wood's The Story of England will know that the college is a major landowner in nearby Kibworth Harcourt.)

The position is a little complicated, but the Mercury quotes on of the village campaigners against the loss of he hall, Chris Weston, as follows:
Mr Weston said the village hall was built in 1912, and was acquired at agricultural land value by Merton College as part of a farm purchase in 1936. 
"Initially, the continued use of the site for the village hall was on the basis of an unwritten understanding between the previous owner and the college bursar," Mr Weston said. 
But a lease drawn up to regularise the situation in 1970 expired in March, 2010. In 2004, the college told the council that it was unlikely to renew the lease, but said no definite decision would be given until nearer the time.
Chris Weston, incidentally, was one of the more amiable Conservatives on Harborough District Council when I was a councillor too.

Another of the Tur Langton residents active in the campaign is Martin Corry, the former England rugby captain.

Because of the uncertainty over its future, there has been little work done on the village hall in recent years. But Chris Weston told the Mercury that "there is a large groundswell of support for renovating the existing hall to modern standards".

Merton College has offered a site for a new hall if villagers agree to the development of the old site. But Tur Langton is a small village and, particularly in the current economic climate, those villagers are unwilling to take on the fundraising that would be involved if they agreed to this.

The Mercury, incidentally, tried but failed to get a comment from Merton College on this affair.

Sometimes landlords are more generous. The picture below shows the former village hall in neighbouring East Langton. It was given to the village by my hero J.W. Logan, the Liberal MP for Harborough, in 1898. Logan lived in the village at East Langton Grange.

It was taken back from the villagers by Colonel Hignett when he bought the estate on Logan's death and is still a private house. But that's Tories for you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Has anyone approached the Warden of Merton College, the mathematician Sir Martin Taylor FRS who comes from Leicester, for a comment?