THE team hoping to save a popular dance school from redevelopment has been told they need to raise £525,000 in just six months. 

As previously reported, 24 Swan Street in Kingsclere was set to be sold by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council (BDBC), with the view of it being turned into residential flats.

It is currently home to JLD School of Dance, as well as Kingsclere Performing Arts College (KPAC), and businesses such as Baughurst Blades and Eira's Equestrian Supplies.

A petition launched by Kingsclere Performing Arts and Youth Centre (PAYC) aiming to keep the building in its current community use gained at least 1,400 signatures.

READ MORE: 24 Swan Street: Popular dance school site could be saved

At a meeting of the cabinet on Tuesday, March 7, the decision was taken that 24 Swan Street was no longer needed by the council. 

However, the council agreed to give the community the first opportunity to make an offer to purchase the long lease on the building in the next six months at a lower price.

The PAYC group has been told they will need to raise the money by September 14.

The building is currently on sale for offers of around £750,000.

The Gazette spoke to one director of PAYC, Hayley Crunden, who said the team have been busy coming up with fundraising ideas. 

They hope to raise the remaining funds by applying for grants, including the National Lottery, The Plunkett Foundation and Greenham Trust.

This includes a pledge 500 campaign, where they hope to encourage 500 residents to pledge £500.

They have also organised a family-friendly live music and dance festival, which will be held on Saturday, September 2, in 'The Ring' at the top of White Hill facilitated by Park House Stables. 

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The event will not only encourage residents to help fundraise but Haley said she hopes it will be a "celebration of local talent and community spirit".

Speaking to the Gazette Haley said she hopes people get behind the campaign now because the "threat is imminent". 

She said: "We need to raise this money to be able to successfully put in a bid."

She said the building not only provides a "safe place" for many children but also provides the main parking facility for the village.

She continued: "I think it is also one of the biggest buildings on the high street and it has always been there for the community and to turn it into flats and lose the parking facility would mean people would really miss it when its too late."

The team are now hoping the community will get behind them to save it from redevelopment.

Co-leader and cabinet member for finance and property Cllr Gavin James said: “We’ve listened to all that has been said about Swan Street and recognise its importance to the community.

"We are continuing discussions with the tenants to understand their requirements and have, in the interim, suspended any intention to sell the building on the open market. We are looking at the options open to us to keep it as a community-run venue supporting local groups and businesses and offering community facilities in the future.”

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