A BOLD proposal from the Church of England to help young people in Studley has run into a wave of objections.
The plan would involve selling the much-loved parish centre in Old Vicarage Gardens and using the money the buy and refurbish the old village youth club, now the Studley Centre, where church volunteers could step up their already successful outreach service to local teens.
More than 50 concerned residents, some forced to stand in the corridor, packed a meeting of Studley parish council to hear councillors discuss the issue.
In a letter Dr Martin Vasey, director and company secretary of The Pines Management Company, of 12 The Pines in Old Vicarage Gardens, which maintains the area by the parish centre, cited fears of increased traffic and parking problems if it was sold for housing.
He added building work could disrupt the drainage system and said nearby trees could easily have preservation orders placed on them adding to the difficulty of developing the site.
Local resident Terry Burton told the meeting: “The Church must realise that they have not got the majority they need.
“The Church is here to support the village and it should not stab us in the back for financial gain.”
However the Reverend David Silvester, vicar of Studley, reminded the meeting that the Church had been serving the village for 900 years.
“We hope that this gives us some credibility,” he said.
He added that Church volunteers run a number of beneficial services, including supplying 178kg of food for needy families through the foodbank as well as its Friday night outreach café and Sunday youth café.
“We have a long track record of doing important things that make a difference in the village,” he said, “and this is an opportunity that may not come again.”
He added that 10-25 young people already attended their drop-in café and police records showed a considerable drop in youth crime since it had started.
Cuts to local government led to the closure of Studley youth club and the Church hopes the sale of the parish centre could raise £400,000 to buy it, spending the rest on refurbishment.
Time is tight though as the county council, which owns the facility, has put a six-month time limit on bids for the building, which is already the subject of at least two other expressions of interest and which, even then, could still be retained by the county as a residential care facility.