A COMMUNITY hall which became the centre of controversy after church leaders said it had become too expensive to maintain has been put up for sale.

Hambleton District Council's planning committee agreed to allow the Grade II listed church hall in Felixkirk, near Thirsk, to be converted into a three-bedroom home at a meeting in December after hearing it had only been used 15 times in the previous three years.

Felixkirk Social Group had voiced "grave concerns" about the proposal, saying it would deprive the village of a much-loved facility, which it had tried to protect as an Asset of Community Value in 2012.

In a letter to the council, a spokesman for the group wrote: "Over the years the community has invested a lot of time and money in improving and maintaining the building, and thought the people of the village collectively owned the hall.

"Felixkirk is not served by public transport and therefore those that don't drive or who are less mobile would not be able to access a community facility, increasing social exclusion and isolation."

The parish church is seeking offers over £200,000 for the 19th century property in the village on the edge of the North York Moors National Park.

Church leaders said after a five-year search for a community-based solution for the building, which served as the village’s school from around 1835 until 1934, no individual or group had been prepared to take responsibility for it, while it was necessary to protect funds for future repairs on the village's Norman church.

Crispin Pettifer, treasurer of the local parochial church council, said by offering the hall for sale as a private residence, it would be given a new lease of life.

He said: “The church hall remains very close to the heart of the community, but its use as a public amenity just isn’t financially or practically viable any more."