Open Letter to Meads Residents

An update on the transfer of Meads Parish Hall

MECC Trustees

10 June 2024 - 5 min read

Transfer of Meads Parish Hall to Meads (Eastbourne) Community Centre

Status 10th June 2024

Open letter

Dear Meads Residents,

We, the Trustees of the Meads (Eastbourne) Community Centre (MECC), have been working hard trying to save the Parish Hall for the Meads community. We have been enthusiastically supported by the community and were over the moon when we were told that our application for a £450,000 Community Ownership Fund (COF) government grant was successful on 23rd March.

We have instructed Stiles Harold Williams Partnership LLP (SHW) as our Building Surveyor and they have already issued tender documents for the roof works and submitted the planning application. Tender documents for the rest of the works will be issued shortly and we plan for works to start in the late Summer.

We are delighted that since launching our funding appeal the Meads community has stepped up with numerous donations towards the £100,000 matched funding we need to raise to access the COF grant.

Whilst this has been going on, the Trustees of MECC have been working hard, negotiating with the Parochial Church Council of The Ecclesiastical Parish of St John Meads (PCC) regarding the transfer of the Parish Hall to MECC.

You may remember that the Duke of Devonshire gifted the site to a parish hall trust by way of an indenture dated 6th February 1912 and the Hall was built in 1926 following appeals for public funds. An October 1926 appeal stated that the building would also be used for “social gatherings” with no ecclesiastical limitation. Indeed, we know that the Hall has been used for a wide range of non-ecclesiastical community activities ever since it was built.

We are all aware of the urgent need for the Hall to be repaired and refurbished, and, once again, the community and MECC Trustees are stepping up to make this happen. The Compton Estate has also been clear about its wish to see the Hall restored and used by the community. It has even helpfully stated “… we are happy for the use restriction to be changed to one for Meads community use and any necessary associated commercial activity to support that use and the ongoing maintenance of the Hall.” So, when MECC Trustees met the PCC Trustees on 12th February 2024 we asked them outright to transfer the freehold of the Hall to MECC on behalf of the community, since the PCC was no longer in a position to keep the Hall and pay for its repair and maintenance. The PCC Trustees advised us that they would like to transfer the freehold but were prevented from doing so because of charity law, but that they were able to offer a lease to us. Essentially, they believed MECC's charitable objects were significantly different from the parish hall trust's and that as such a charity to charity transfer of assets was not permitted.

Supplied with that information, Cripps solicitors wrote on our behalf to the Charity Commission on 1st March explaining their alternative interpretation of the 1912 Indenture and subsequent correspondence and events. The Charity Commission responded on 8th March stating that they had not considered the wider objects of the Parish Hall and that it was for the Trustees of the Parish Hall to do so. With such optimistic news, we reverted to the PCC on 18th March. Imagine our delight when we received an email from the PCC on 24th March saying: “…you make a cogent case in your letter and, after much prayer, we are willing to consider this significant change. Ultimately we want this transfer to work for the benefit of our local community. But we feel that you, the MECC, need to make most of the running on this and thus bear the legal cost of exploring it.” Our solicitors got straight on to the task, writing to the PCC on 28th March setting out the basis on which the freehold could be transferred to MECC. To ensure no stumbling block at their end, we also made it clear that we would be willing to consider an appropriate restriction on the use for which the freehold was transferred, and to amend our objects if required

With hope in our hearts, we were disappointed to hear on 19 April that the PCC had received legal advice that, because their interpretation is that the Hall was gifted in 1912 on ecclesiastical trusts, and MECC is not an ecclesiastical charity, a transfer of the freehold for no consideration was not possible.

We reverted to the PCC Trustees , explaining why we did not agree with their adviser’s interpretation, and specially asking them “…to give us your assurance that you are satisfied that there is no legal option for a transfer of the freehold…” and stated once more “We would like to make it clear that if there was any need for us to amend the CIO’s objects to make this possible we would be open to doing so.”

In response we received a letter from the PCC Trustees on 24th May which stated “…the only way we can consider effecting a transfer to the MECC is through a lease…”. They also attached a valuation report putting a value on the Hall of between £225,000 and £250,000. The valuer specified that the valuation advice was given on the basis that “…the property is not subject to any unusual or onerous restrictions, encumbrances or outgoings” Noting the restrictions in the 1912 deed, which in our view impact significantly on value, we offered the PCC £20,000 as full consideration for the freehold of the Parish Hall on 31st May. We have received a response from the PCC Trustees asking us to respond whether we "will accept a lease, or with a more substantial offer to purchase the freehold." We have replied immediately to ask for clarification of a "more substantial offer".

The added value of a freehold over a lease includes security of tenure, less onerous administration, freedom and flexibility to adapt without PCC oversight, and access to pledges specifically tied to acquiring the freehold.

In order for us to make an informed judgement between the two routes at the same time we would welcome our supporters' views, in confidence, in terms of the added value that the freehold would provide and any related additional financial pledges that would be made contingent on acquiring the freehold rather than a lease.

At this stage, the MECC Trustees feel it is correct for us to share the efforts spent on securing the Parish Hall for the community. Ultimately, we are doing this for the community and your support is paramount. We welcome our supporters' views on this matter through the Contact section on our website (, an email to MECC via or on the “Save Meads Parish Hall” Facebook page.

Yours faithfully,

Robert, Helen, Annalisa, and Mitch

Your MECC Trustees

Working to Save Meads Parish Hall

(Our ref.: O-00005)

The Correspondence

We believe full transparency is important in this matter and happily publish our letters within the timeline.
Certain contact details have been redacted purely for individuals privacy.

4th March 2024
Cripps to Charity Commission

11th March 2024
Charity Commission to Cripps

18th March 2024

28th March 2024
Cripps to PCC

19th April 2024
Winkworth Sherwood to Cripps

29th April 2024

24th May 2024

29th May 2024

6th June 2024

10th June 2024