Monday, 4 February 2013


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:

Church is yours for £175,000
A buyer with £175,000 and a little imagination is needed to take over an empty city church.
St Barnabas, in New Humberstone, closed in 2010 when the Diocese of Leicester decided congregation numbers had dwindled too low to maintain the Grade-II listed Victorian building.
It has room for hundreds of worshippers but, before it closed, only about 20 people attended the Christian services in what has become a mostly Hindu neighbourhood.
The church has now been put on the market with Andrew Granger & Co.
Estate agent Elizabeth Lewin said: "St Barnabas is a fine example of Victorian architecture – it's a beautiful building and the gothic interior creates a great first impression.
"It's really important that we find a buyer who will be sympathetic to the building and its past.
"When we've sold churches in the past it's been about finding someone to stick around to get planning consent because applications about a church are going to be more considered than with another building of a similar age."
The church has planning permission for class B1, which means it could be used as a creche or for education, as well as its former use as a place of worship.
Other possibilities suggested by the estate agents include health centre, art gallery, museums or library.
Elizabeth said: "Because there's no parking it's limited to further development such as flats, but that's not to say someone can't come up with a far-out idea. A community use is most likely."
She said the new owner would find it challenging to get any major changes to the building approved by Leicester City Council.
Most churches are sold on to the open market, but a few are adopted by the Churches Conservation Trust because of their heritage value.
David Gillman, who works as a consultant on getting the best use out of empty churches, said St Barnabas could be hard to sell.
He said: "The church is very near a well-appointed Hindu temple, so there is little requirement for it as a place of worship for the large Hindu population in that area.
"It is a large building and it's not going to be easy to find a new use for it."
Leicester Victorian Society spokesman Graham Lees welcomed the decision to try to sell the church.
He said: "St Barnabas is one of the buildings we identified as one of the 10 most important city buildings at risk of falling into ruin.
"What we hope happens is that someone buys the building and is sympathetic to its character and significance.
"It is a great example of Victorian architecture and it is vital to retain this part of the city's past.
"We do not want it standing empty for ages. A quick sale would be most welcome."
Anyone interested in the building can ring Elizabeth on 01509 243720 or e-mail: elizabeth.lewin@

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