Christ Church Shooters Hill’s vicar says selling flats means it can have a new hall at no cost. Photo: David Hallam-Jones via Geograph, used under Creative Commons licence

Plans are to be unveiled to build flats next to a church on Shooters Hill – less than two years after local councillors insisted that land there was not being sold for development.

Christ Church Shooters Hill is to work with a property developer, Urbanlab, to redevelop its community hall and scout hut, which is next to Castle Wood.

A three-storey building containing a new hall and flats are planned – leaving local scouts worried about the loss of their hut.

The vicar, Mother Ariadne van den Hof, says in a letter to residents that selling the flats will enable the new hall to be built at no cost to the church.

In December 2020 local Green Party activists were forced to apologise after tweeting that “Christ Church Shooters Hill has plans to sell off land for redevelopment”. One local Labour councillor, Chris Kirby, told them: “This is not true.”

At the time, Mtr van den Hof told 853 that the Greens’ tweet was incorrect. She added: “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.”

However, plans for the flats and community hall will be unveiled to neighbours at an exhibition at the church taking place today and tomorrow.

Asked yesterday what had changed, she told this website: “In December 2020 I said that there were ‘not yet any formal plans’.

“Considering options around the deteriorating buildings has been continuing, and we are working with partners to help take this forward. Part of that includes the public consultation about the current stage of proposals.

“Community partners and neighbours are most welcome to see where we are with our plans, and contribute to how things might develop to the next stages.

“Our main aim is to provide a new and flexible community hall to replace a hall that is deteriorating rapidly.”

Mtr van den Hof did not respond to a question about how many flats were planned or whether they would all be for private sale.

The church’s plans have caused alarm in the area, with scout leaders worried about the fate of their hut, described as a “storage hut” in the letter to locals.

Alexander Bienkov, the group scout leader of the 10th Royal Eltham Scout Group (Shooters Hill), wrote in a letter to families: “If the planning application goes ahead we may find ourselves homeless.”

The scout group is planning an exhibition of its own to coincide with the church’s to show locals what it does for the community and to rally support. “Don’t forget to wear your scout scarf if you have one,” Bienkov added.

Tamasin Rhymes, a local resident and Green activist, told 853 she was looking forward to seeing the plans: “Oxleas Wood is an important site in Greenwich, both as an ancient woodland supporting vital wildlife and as a community resource and green lung.

“As such residents are always concerned about any proposed development in the area.”

The church and scout hut exhibitions will take place today (Friday) from 3pm to 8pm and tomorrow (Saturday) from 10am to 2pm.

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