Wednesday, 15 June 2011

"CREATIVE" BUYER WANTED FOR 12TH CENTURY CHURCH

This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
"Creative" buyer wanted for 12th century church
A medieval church which has stood empty for more than six months has been put up for sale.
Grade II-listed St Peter's, in Belgrave, Leicester, went on the market this week.
The church was shut in November last year, despite fierce opposition from worshippers and Leicester Civic Society.
It has since been targeted by thieves and vandals who have stolen lead from the roof and decapitated the statue of St Peter that stands in the doorway.
Leicester estate agent Andrew Granger & Co has set a guide price of £150,000.
Surveyor Elizabeth Watson said: "It is a very lovely church. It needs protecting and that's just how it is with buildings like this.
"We are inviting interested people to get in touch and we are happy to give them advice on whether their ideas for development are suitable.
"It could be a library for instance. It could be a nursery, but while the building is in good repair, it would need some work for this use.
"Basically, a person with some good creative ideas would be ideal."
The church was built in the 12th century, but many additions have been made to it over the years, including Edwardian choir stalls and a Victorian vestry.
The earliest slate headstones in the churchyard are dated 1689 and there are a number of memorials to the First World War and the Boer War inside the building.
Its historic and architectural significance mean strict guidelines on development are in place.
The church is being sold on the instructions of the Church Commissioners for England and Leicester Diocesan Board of Finance, who are also in the process of selling St Saviours, Highfields, and St Gabriel's, Rushey Mead.
A document released by the Church of England to give advice to potential developers said: "Many suitable new uses have been found for closed churches, including places of worship for other Christian bodies, civic, cultural or community use, arts and crafts or music or drama centres."
Liz Hudson-Oliff, of the diocese of Leicester, said they hoped for a quick sale.
She said: "One does not like to see such a building lie empty for any length of time, because it is then that you get problems with vandalism and the like.
"We would hope for a quick sale and for it to be turned into something appropriate.
"The church was put on the market because there were too many churches in the area for the amount of people using them."
Leicester Civic Society has welcomed the announcement that the building is on the market.
Chairman Stuart Bailey said: "That was very quick indeed and I am delighted. However, as I said back before it shut, it will be very difficult to use this building for anything other than a church, because of its listed status.
"I fear that a suitable buyer will not be found, but would love to see it brought back into use in a suitable way."

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