Save our ballroom plea as town centre faces redevelopment

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A former British ballroom champion is spearheading a campaign to save a dance hall from the bulldozer.

Ann Freeman, who runs her weekly Dance Moves classes at the St John Ambulance Hall, Fleet Street, Chorley, fears the building could be lost under new Chorley Council town centre redevelopment plans.

She said: “We need a large dance floor to operate, so relocation is not an alternative and I’m not aware of a floor of similar size that is available on weekly basis.

“This is a thriving leisure outlet which would have to close.”

Ann is also a world bronze medallist winner who said she wanted “to give something back to Chorley with a professional dance school with a warm atmosphere”.

Dance Moves, which has around 100 members aged from 18 to 80, runs classes at all levels. Its summer ball this month sold out in 72 hours, with people coming from as far afield as the Fylde and Manchester areas.

“I understand the need for development and it is, of course, the decision of the St John Ambulance brigade, but we wish to show that we would be robbing Chorley and district of a major dance and fitness outlet,” said Ann.

Other users of the hall include Anita Murray for ballet, and there are line dance classes and sequence classes.

Another campaigner, Barbara Waddington, said: “Although I do not object to the provision of homes being built in Fleet Street, I do, very strongly object to the hall being demolished. Apart from it being a building of great character, it is home to various well established activity groups, fifty two weeks a year.

“Many are single people for whom the hall, with its own car park, provides a safe environment and sometimes a very welcome opportunity to make friends and develop confidence and self-esteem whilst actively maintaining a happy and healthy lifestyle.

“Without this hall and ballroom all would be lost. For it is the size of the ballroom that makes Dance Moves unique as it is the only large cedar ballroom left in the Chorley area, creating the difference between dancing and shuffling.

“If residential homes were to be built in this area, then surely the community and council would only benefit from having its own leisure facility, already established, within its midst?

“Come on Chorley Council, if you could only feel the joy dancing brings us you would save our ballroom.”

A Chorley Council spokesperson said: “The council held a consultation for people to put forward their views about the masterplan and these will all be taken into consideration before any decisions are made.

“Although the consultation has ended people are welcome to send their views to the authority. We will be pleased to hear from them.”