A HISTORIC church hall in Otley has been sold.

Newall Church Hall was built by Otley Parish Church on land off Newall Carr Road in the late 1920s.

The building was created to provide a base for Sunday School on the north side of the river and a variety of community activities during the rest of the week.

For the past 20 years, however, the hall has been under-used and has been costing the parish church money.

So the Parocial Church Council (PCC) decided a few years ago to sell the property and its surrounding, green space land.

It had hoped to see the site used for low-cost housing but hit some obstacles with that plan - so has now sold up to a ‘local business’.

A spokesman for the PCC said: “For the last 20 years the church has had little need of the building, and it has been very under-used.

“The hall has long been a drain on the parish church’s resources, so for the last two years the Parochial Church Council has been trying to obtain planning permission to redevelop the site with low-cost housing, but this has not proved possible.

“The hall and surrounding land has now been sold to a local business.

“The church will thus be able to focus its resources on maintaining the parish church building on Kirkgate.

“It is Otley’s oldest and finest building - a Grade I Listed Building - but has heavy maintenance costs which are met almost entirely by the church’s congregation.

“Over the years many people have worked in a voluntary capacity to keep Newall Church Hall running and available for community use - we would like to thank them all.”

Vicar of Otley Reverend Graham Buttanshaw added: “It’s been a long and draining process and I’m very pleased it’s come to a good conclusion.”

The hall’s land was originally donated by the Horton-Fawkes family, of Farnley Hall, to a trust that was set up for the benefit of the parish church.

The trustees, however, formally transferred ownership of the site to the church some years ago.

In recent years Slimming World and Otley Choral Society were among the groups who were paying the church to use the hall at certain times of the week.

The church’s proposal to sell the site off for housing was not popular among some local residents who organised a meeting at the Yew Tree Inn in April, 2018 to air their concerns.

Otley All Saints, meanwhile, is currently open during the day for reflection and individual prayer.

The church has also, like other churches, been streaming its Sunday morning services via YouTube during the coronavirus lockdown. It can now hold funeral services again, too, though with limited (up to 25) numbers and other restrictions in place.