A COMMUNITY has come out fighting in its efforts to save a variety of groups in the wake of plans to sell the building where they are based.

At a packed public meeting they challenged Bexley Council to guarantee the groups would be found a new home when the site of the Howbury Centre is sold.

The centre, formerly Howbury Grange School, Slade Green Road, Slade Green, is one of a series of council-owned properties being put on the market to help finance a new civic centre.

Proposals on a planning brief to guide developers is currently out for public consultation.

But council planner Glyn Bryant provoked an angry response when he told the meeting: "The starting point is the site will be redeveloped.

"There is no point trying to persuade the council otherwise because it has already made the decision."

Residents of the area have been angry for many years about the closure of the school but, to loud jeering, Mr Bryant said redevelopment of the 120-acre site "provides an opportunity to improve Slade Green".

Many people asked what was the point of building more family homes while taking away much-needed family facilities, such as the after-school club and playgroups.

There was an angry reaction when the meeting, organised by community group the Slade Green Forum, was told there was no guarantee for the future of any of the existing facilities at the centre, not even the library.

Mr Bryant said: "No decision has been made about what will be replaced."

The centre currently houses a variety of uses including playgroups, sporting activities, a library, adult education, events for youngsters and the elderly as well as some council services and the safer neighbourhoods policing team.

Cabinet member for regeneration Councillor John Waters said he would do his best to make sure any new community space provided by the developer would be available before groups closed at the Howbury Centre.

But the meeting ended with angry residents determined to fight to keep their community groups intact.