A CONSERVATION society has given its backing to a residents' campaign to save a historic building for the community.

The Chiltern Society has been in contact with the St Francis Church steering group about the possible closure of Temperance Hall, Heath End Road, Flackwell Heath.

The building is used as St Francis Church and is believed to date from 1881.

It is designated for closure by the end of the year as part of a strategy to combine the church with St Dunstans in Bourne End but residents are worried and want it kept for use by the community.

Barbara Wallis, chairman of the society's Historic Works and Buildings Group, has written to the Northampton Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust about the proposed sale. She said: "This hall has been part of the village scene for more than 120 years and its closure, sale and, possibly its demolition would be a further example of the urbanisation of this country's villages."

She said the hall should not be lost but a new use should be found which would benefit the community.

She requested that no decision should be made to sell the building until the wider community has been consulted as to what service it could provide.

She said: "I understand no approaches have yet been made to establish if the hall would be of use to the local community, schools, councils or sports bodies and urge you to delay the decision to sell until after such consultations have been conducted."

Chepping Wycombe Parish Councillor Michael Wilkes said: "We are told it's the oldest building in the village. I think an effort should be made to try and keep it but there's a very limited ability of the parish council to do anything about it as a body."