£400k bill could sink bid to re­vive church

Accrington Observer - - NEWS - Jon.macpher­son@men-news.co.uk @JonMacMEN

JON MACPHER­SON

RES­I­DENTS could be priced out of turn­ing a boarded up his­toric church into a com­mu­nity space - after it was re­vealed the scheme could cost more than £400,000.

St James Church Kirk held its last ser­vice in Novem­ber 2015 and was put on the mar­ket by the dio­cese in Septem­ber 2016 after a se­ries of at­tempted break-ins left the va­cant build­ing a ‘safety risk’.

Hyn­d­burn MP Gra­ham Jones had been pe­ti­tion­ing church lead­ers for the build­ing to be re­tained as a com­mu­nity as­set be­cause of its his­tor­i­cal im­por­tance.

But fol­low­ing a meet­ing with church and com­mu­nity lead­ers last month, Mr Jones has re­vealed that it could cost a six-fig­ure sum to trans­form the church, on St James Road, into a com­mu­nity space.

He said: “It would cost ap­prox­i­mately £250,000 for the work nec­es­sary to bring the build­ing up to stan­dard, how­ever after the cost of ar­chi­tects, sur­vey­ors etc. the fig­ure would be around £400,000.

“It would also cost an es­ti­mated £25,000 per year for heat­ing and light­ing.

“There­fore an in­come would be needed to main­tain the up­keep of the build­ing.

“How­ever, res­i­dents would be able to ap­ply to fund­ing schemes to as­sist with such costs.

“The build­ing is cur- rently still on the mar­ket and it is known that po­ten­tial buy­ers have ex­pressed in­ter­est.

“If a buyer goes for­ward with pur­chas­ing the church, it would be a pos­si­bil­ity to con­tact them in or­der to dis­cuss what they wish to do with the build­ing, as some have ex­pressed that they are will­ing to ded­i­cate some of the build­ing to com­mu­nity use.”

The Grade II-listed build­ing has been ad­ver­tised on prop­erty web­site Right Move for an undis­closed amount, with ‘of­fers in­vited’.

Mr Jones said if an area of the build­ing was ded­i­cated to com­mu­nity use then it ‘could be ben­e­fi­cial for both Church res­i­dents and the po­ten­tial buyer’.

He said: “Res­i­dents could pos­si­bly source fund­ing to put to­wards the com­mu­nity space.

“A com­mu­nity group also has ac­cess to fund­ing that in­di­vid­u­als do not, for ex­am­ple the Lan­cashire En­vi­ron­men­tal Fund could be con­tacted by a com­mu­nity group re­gard­ing pro­vid­ing so­lar pan­els for the roof, some­thing that an in­di­vid­ual buyer would not be able to do.

“So­lar pan­els would be use­ful in re­duc­ing costs.”

The now boarded up St James Church Kirk

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