In our recent Update, we wrote:
A ‘stakeholders’ group was set up early last year to try to take forward matters concerning possible uses to which the now disused church might be put and whether it might form a community asset under some kind of charitable organisation. The issues are formidable, particularly as much of the surrounding land up as far as West Hill Road is subject to slippage. The Burton tomb and cemetery and the adjacent footpath have been closed to the public for some while. Historic England have listed the Adrian Gilbert Scott church and the Burton tomb as having ‘group value’. The ‘stakeholders’ group is now forming itself into a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), with a view to working in conjunction with the Burtons’ St Leonards Society.
The aim of the CIO (St Leonards Church Charitable Trust) will be:
“To protect, renovate, preserve and maintain for the benefit of the community the disused Grade II listed St Leonards Parish Church and its surrounds, including the listed Burton family tomb.”
There has been further progress since we reported. The expert group has continued the process of forming itself into a CIO. With the collaboration of the diocese, the group will shortly be making a full site visit and an inspection of the exterior and interior of the former church. After this, it will be possible to revert to the detailed issue of land stabilisation (a major project both geo-technically and financially) and to questions of possible new uses of the building viewed as a community asset. Both the church and the tomb lie within conservation area 04 (St Leonards West) and thanks are due to the West St Leonards Forum for originating the progress made so far. Both historic monuments have of course great significance for the neighbouring area (02) (Burtons’ St Leonards).
In order to keep members and the wider public fully up-to-date with the detailed work of the expert group and possibilities for community involvement, we have arranged an Open Meeting. This will take place in the Seafront Room at the White Rock Hotel at 6.30 pm on Monday 6th March.
Please note that we owe this facility, as on previous occasions, to the generosity of the hotel. Admission to the meeting is free but use may of course be made of the bar, which provides a range of hot and cold drinks, light meals and sandwiches.