The land around the 165-year-old church was at the centre of a row. Photo: David Hallam-Jones via Geograph, used under Creative Commons licence

Update: In September 2022, Christ Church Shooters Hill announced plans to build flats and a new community hall. Read on for the story as it was in December 2020.

Green Party activists in Greenwich have apologised after falsely claiming that a church in Shooters Hill was planning to sell woodland for development.

The Greens caused anger on Tuesday after making the claim about Christ Church, saying it was “very concerned to hear” of plans to sell land that “has bats living in it [and] is well used by children locally”.

However, the party’s anonymous tweeter had not spoken to the church – instead inviting 853 and a host of other outlets to investigate instead.

The church has confirmed to 853 that it has no plans to sell the land – not least because it has very little land to sell.

The Greens are known for a frenetic social media presence – tagging a host of other accounts into their tweets – and it is thought the party’s anonymous tweeter leapt to their iPad after hearing local gossip about some trees being cut down.

False Green tweet
False: The Greens even tried to whip up interest from Extinction Rebellion

Local Labour councillor Chris Kirby responded: “This is not true. You should delete this and apologise. A simple call or email to the church would have given you the info you need.”

On Wednesday morning, the Greens’ 5,200 followers were then treated to them having a Labour councillor do their research for them. “Chris Kirby has spoken to the church and “they are happy to speak to any neighbours or local groups that have concerns. They have been on the site since 1856 – they care deeply about the community and the woodland.”

“We apologise for any misinformation and upset caused,” the anonymous tweeter added.

However, the original tweets stayed live, and were being retweeted by others, until the evening.

Mother Ariadne van den Hof, the vicar of Christ Church Shooters Hill, told 853: “Some rotten and potentially dangerous trees in the curtilage of the churchyard have been dealt with for safety reasons. Most of the woodland is outside the churchyard boundary and responsibility.”

She added that a new church hall was being considered, but plans were a long way off. “Being built on the side of Shooters Hill, subsidence has long affected our hall. Thought has been given over the last decade or more for a replacement that better suits our local community; but there are not yet any formal plans.”

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