A CAMPAIGN has been launched in Calstock parish to keep an up-for-sale outdoor education centre out of the hands of property developers and turn it into a community centre.

The Delaware Outdoor Education Centre is one of four residential centres providing breaks for local schoolchildren which now been put up for sale by Cornwall Council on the open market.

Calstock parish councillors have agreed to fight to acquire the Delaware centre – a historic Victorian building which was once the local village school – to prevent it being snapped up by property developers.

Ken Trapp, councillor for the Delaware ward, said Calstock Parish Council said the council would battle to secure the building to provide a much-needed community centre for St Ann’s Chapel, Drakewalls and Albaston.

Cllr Trapp said: ‘We are concerned that the county council is selling all their other centres and particularly in the case of Delaware, we are concerned that the space will be lost to our schools and to the community and will be sold to a developer. We have got far too much development here anyway and we don’t need any more.’

There are some hopes that the outdoor education centres might be sold to someone who will run them as such.

‘Also, our ambition is firstly to see it retained an outdoor education centre by attracting private interest in running it. That is something I have been trying to get some funding for. The parish council can’t take it on as it is, but our concern is not to lose it as a facility. Secondly if it doesn’t have a secure future as an outdoor centre, we want to retain it for community use, certainly using part of the site for a community centre for St Ann’s Chapel, Drakewalls and Albaston, because we have got no village hall and no youth centre.

‘The old school building is beautiful, it would be criminal if it was to be lost to development.’

The school has been on the open market with Vickery Holman for weeks. No price tag is listed, simply ‘price on application’.

Calstock Parish Council agreed to apply to nominate the building for inclusion in a list of assets of community value.

At their meeting on Tuesday last week, councillors expressed concern that Cornwall Council had pressed ahead with putting the centre up for sale before discussing the bid.

Cornwall Councillor Dorothy Kirk, who represents the Calstock ward, said: ‘The attitude is appalling to the young people of Cornwall – we’ve had the closure of leaisure centres, swimming pools and now adventure centres.

‘The priority is wrong if this is how employees and our children are being treated.’

Cllr Trapp, speaking at the meeting, said: ‘Cornwall Council have handled this atrociously. Those people at the centre feel very badly let down with what’s happened. There’s been no consultation whatsoever, nobody’s been up there to see them. It’s just happened to them.’

Cllr Trapp is challenging a claim by Cornwall Council that the outdoor education centre as a going concern was unprofitable, submitting Freedom of Information requests to Cornwall Council for information on running costs and overall income and expenditure.

At the council’s most recent meeting, Cllr Trapp added: ‘If we don’t secure it, all the land will be gobbled up by housing – Cornwall Council approached [county social housing provider] Cornwall Housing before they announced closure of the centres. This would provide social housing which as we know is not social nor affordable.

‘Our ambition should be to secure the site two-fold: first, by securing what we want in community facilities and secondly, we may need to create a land trust on the site and arrange for proper social housing in perpetuity which will be controlled through trustees and we will then have a measure of autonomy on who it actually goes to. If Cornwall Housing get this, our local people will not be top of the list. Trustees of the land trust set the rules, allowing us to control allocation of the housing.’

Cornwall Council has been approached for a comment which was not forthcoming at the time of going to press.