Fears over former Bilton Social Club site

MHRA-20-08-13 Social Club Aug33   Former councillor Ian Smith outside the derelict Bilton Social Club . He's campaigning against the development of the site.
MHRA-20-08-13 Social Club Aug33 Former councillor Ian Smith outside the derelict Bilton Social Club . He's campaigning against the development of the site.

Potential plans to build homes on the site of the former Bilton Social Club have ignited a debate about what’s best for the village.

Court Residential bought the land off the former Trustees of Bilton Social Club after the club shut several years ago. Court has revealed a formal intention to demolish the existing building on the site, which is opposite the Black Horse pub in the heart of Bilton.

The housing developer, which would need to change land use from community purposes to residential before submitting any plans, then put the site on the market for a year as required by planning law.

Bilton Evangelical Church (BEC) said this week that it would have liked to buy the land off the trustees, but that it wasn’t in a position to at the time. More recently the church had an offer to buy the land rejected by Court.

Paul Rogers, a pastor and church leader, said: “We have nothing against the developer, but just think it’d be a real shame for residents and businesses if it wasn’t possible to retain the land for community use.”

Meanwhile, former county and borough councillor Ian Smith has started a campaign on behalf of concerned residents against any change of land-use, which aside from the demolition, has not yet been finalised or submitted.

Mr Smith said: “Bilton Social Club sat at the centre of Bilton life for many years. It provided a community hub and also allowed a small amount of parking for people.

“I would like to see the community develop a plan for this site so that Bilton is enhanced for residents. This would also have the advantage of allowing people to park and use the many shops in Bilton village. We should proceed cautiously and I encourage Bilton’s councillors to join me in ensuring a sustainable community future for the site.”

Court Residential was not available for comment.