Prop­er­ties that could pro­vide an an­swer to home­buy­ers’ prayers

Church prop­erty al­ways prompts in­ter­est from buy­ers, but watch out for re­stric­tions on what you can do with them. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

CHAPELS, churches, pres­by­ter­ies, manses and vicarages are all blessed and in more ways than one. In a flat, ap­a­thetic mar­ket, these prop­er­ties are guar­an­teed to ex­cite in­ter­est from would-be buy­ers.

“Peo­ple like the idea of liv­ing in a rec­tory be­cause it has ku­dos and then there are buy­ers who specif­i­cally want to con­vert a church or chapel,” says David Chary, of San­der­son Weather­all, Leeds, who is an ex­pert in these sales.

He acts for the Angli­can Dio­cese of Ripon and Leeds and the Dio­cese of York along with the Catholic Dio­ce­ses of Leeds and Mid­dles­brough and var­i­ous Methodist Cir­cuits.

All de­nom­i­na­tions and build­ing types are wel­come, says David, who adds that the best sell­ers are the old vicarages in prime lo­ca­tions, though there are sur­pris­ingly few still in church own­er­ship.

Most of them were sold in the 1960s and 1970s and clergy moved to more mod­ern ac­com­mo­da­tion, ac­cord­ing to the Rev. Canon John Carter , com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer for the Dio­ce­ses of Ripon and Leeds.

Sell­ing up isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a sign that con­gre­ga­tions are fall­ing. Most sales, says Canon Carter, are down to lo­gis­tics and run­ning costs

The Rec­tory at Roma­ld­kirk, near Barnard Cas­tle, built in the 1960s, is on the mar­ket for £425,000 as the vicar is mov­ing to a prop­erty that is more cen­trally lo­cated for the parishes he serves.

“There hasn’t been a huge de­cline in the num­ber of clergy houses in re­cent years. Our dio­cese has 160. It’s that we have re­placed the old vicarages we have sold with more mod­ern ones that are bet­ter lo­cated and more en­ergy ef­fi­cient. That does mat­ter, as most of the cost of the heat­ing and lighting falls on the clergy,” says Canon Carter.

“We work on the ba­sis that an ef­fec­tive vicarage should have four bed­rooms, two re­cep­tion rooms and an of­fice where the vicar can work and meet par­ish­ioners in pri­vate.”

The most sought-af­ter Angli­can prop­erty on San­der­son Weather­all’s books is the Archdea­con of Leeds’ res­i­dence in West Park Grove, Round­hay. The dio­cese is buy­ing a re­place­ment for the sev­enbed­room prop­erty, which is on the mar­ket for £725,000.

“It is quite a com­mon sce­nario that the dio­cese will buy or build an­other, more sus­tain­able, prop­erty. At St Joh n’s in Ben Rhy­d­ding, near Ilk­ley, they sold the Ed­war­dian vicarage and got per­mis­sion to build a new house in the gar­den with a ground source heat pump. The cost of build­ing a new prop­erty was less than the re­ceipt of the old one, which made good busi­ness sense,” says David, who also has an evangelical church and a num­ber of chapels for sale.

Angli­can churches rarely come onto the mar­ket be­cause most are con­se­crated, which lim­its al­ter­na­tive use. Catholic churches and Methodist chapels are less of a prob­lem as they don’t usu­ally have grave­yards.

The Ash­wood Cen­tre in Head­in­g­ley, is a for­mer United Re­formed Church, used for community wor­ship. The listed build­ing, com­plete with tower, spire and stained glass win­dows, is up for sale for £650,000. It was de­signed by Cuth­bert Brod­er­ick, ar­chi­tect of Leeds Town Hall, and has po­ten­tial, though a plan to turn it into 18 apart­ments was turned down in 2004.

The smaller, more min­i­mal­ist Methodist chapels can make ideal homes, but, as with all ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal prop­erty, there may be re­stric­tive covenants.

A stan­dard covenant for a vicarage next to a church is that you can’t play mu­sic on a Sun­day morn­ing that might dis­turb the divine ser­vice. An­other one is that you can­not use the prop­erty for gam­bling or retailing al­co­hol.

“The buyer of the vicarage we had for sale in Askrigg came up against this prob­lem as he wanted to use the prop­erty

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