AN ex-army hut which has been the centre of a community for almost 60 years is set to be replaced with a new village hall.

The "temporary" ex-army Nissen hut in Hett, near Durham, was put up in 1961 and since then has been the centre of village life.

Though much-loved, the hut, which was put up thanks to a shilling-a-week subscription by villagers, is showing signs of its age and Hett Village Hall Association wants to replace it with a more modern building.

Chairman Les Griffiths said: “Replacing the present building with a similar but fit-for-purpose facility will be challenging, but it is vital that we try to provide a space that our community can use and retain our community spirit."

The association has come up with a design to fit in with the village's conservation zone but also provides a larger hall, with more space for community activities, which it hopes will be a "perfect fit" for Hett.

The Northern Echo:

A drawing of the proposed new hut

The village hall, which is home to a Women's Institute group and hosts regular quiz nights, shows and social get togethers, has been the only communal space in Hett since the pub closed a number of years ago.

The association says residents are backing the plans, which are due to be submitted to Durham County Council shortly.

A spokesman for the association said: "When a survey went out to the villagers asking for their views, everyone who responded was in favour of the design, which includes a bigger main hall plus meeting room and updated kitchen, toilets and storage space."

Further ground work will still need to be done due to medieval mineworks in the area.

Mr Griffiths added: "Our biggest challenge will be to deal with the legacy of our mining heritage and refill the voids where coal extraction has occurred.

"We will be looking for partners to help us with their expertise in this work but look forward to welcoming the community in to our new building soon.”

If planning permission is secured it will enable the association to bid for funding.