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Clapton flooding: Buddhist charity that bought Grade-II listed Old School House face battle to reopen it for community

PUBLISHED: 14:21 11 October 2018 | UPDATED: 14:53 11 October 2018

Flooding at the Grade-II listed Old School House. Picture: Kriss Lee

Flooding at the Grade-II listed Old School House. Picture: Kriss Lee

Archant

A Buddhist charity is fighting to keep its dreams of a community space afloat after last week’s major flooding in Clapton.

The Grade II-listed Old School House building was only snapped up by Buddhist charity Chan Khong Monastery UK at auction in July.

It was sold after its previous owner, Vision Homes, was thwarted in its attempts to turn the building into luxury flats.

But the site was damaged in the flooding, with water getting into the building thanks to a gap in hoardings.

Long Huynh, chair of the charity and project leader, has an ambitious set of plans for the building – but they’ve now had to be put on hold.

A family being rescued from the floods in Clapton on Wednesday morning. Picture: Paul WoodA family being rescued from the floods in Clapton on Wednesday morning. Picture: Paul Wood

He told the Gazette: “In the last two months I’ve had a lot of stress. All I want to do is restore this building. It took us four weeks to clean up the building. It feels like I’ve been kicked.

“It’s a race against time to get the money to pay the professionals so that the building can be fixed. I have no idea how much this is all going to cost.”

He also said he was frustrated the building bore the brunt of the flooding.

“I really got the feeling Thames Water didn’t care about this building at all when they were dealing with the flood,” he said.

A rescue from the floods in Clapton on Wednesday morning. Picture: Paul WoodA rescue from the floods in Clapton on Wednesday morning. Picture: Paul Wood

Thames Water said its number one concern in the event of a large burst is always to protect lives, so buildings with people in are prioritised.

When it is eventually ready to be used, Long said he wanted the building to be a community space open to everyone.

“I want this to be a place where our neighbours come together to achieve mental well being, as an escape from the pressures of the materialist world,” he added.

“Buddhism is very inclusive – you don’t have to be Buddhist to come and you don’t have to meditate to achieve well being. Art, for example, can be as good,” he said. “It’s an honour and a privilege to restore this beautiful old building as well as provide a space for the community.”

A submerged car in Clapton on Wednesday morning. Picture: Paul WoodA submerged car in Clapton on Wednesday morning. Picture: Paul Wood

The charity will also continue its usual work of raising funds for victims of natural disasters alongside its community work.

Neighbour Kriss Lee, who has campaigned for the building’s protection, said he was pleased with what he’d seen from the charity.

He said: “They are incredibly sympathetic to the building and the surrounding area.”

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