Waverley councillors went against their officers’ recommendation and have allowed the new Rowledge village hall to be built on the Cherryfields site.

Officers said the proposal should be thrown out as it contravened Neighbourhood Plan and Development Plan policies.

But after a debate the western planning committee approved the application by a 13-2 majority.

The present village hall is more than 100 years old and was only meant to be a temporary building.

Hall chairman Richard Banes-Walker told the committee that although the trustees had great affection for the existing hall, they had a much greater concern for the many and various local users it serves, such as Scouts, Cubs, a playgroup and sports clubs. It is also used for parties and the Friday Coffee Spot.

He said the structure was too lightweight, with no foundations, and was now beyond repair.

He added: “We’ve kept the existing hall on life support throughout last winter, but this can’t go on. Our plan allows for a seamless transfer from old to new.”

The trustees can buy the site for the new hall for “a reasonable sum” and have £1.2 million in cash and assets towards the project cost already available.

Although the new site is in an Area of Strategic Visual Importance, councillors felt the renewal of an important community building on this site was, on balance, more important than the minor loss of a countryside view.

After the committee’s decision, Mr Banes-Walker said: “We are grateful to Peter Clark, our ward councillor, who gave an eloquent, well-researched and insightful statement in support of the 

“We’d also like to thank the people of Rowledge and beyond who have strongly supported our campaign leading up to the application. A special mention goes out to our team of volunteers who pounded the streets to hand-deliver leaflets.

“But the hard work starts now. We require everyone’s help with our fundraising efforts to secure the rest of the money we need before we can begin building.”