A new lease of life for city church
A Victorian gothic church could be turned into a function hall.
Developer Altaf Gaffar has applied to Leicester City Council for permission to turn Grade II-listed St Saviour's Church, in St Saviour's Road, Spinney Hills, into a venue for events.
The church has been up for sale with an asking price of about £750,000 since March, 2011, after being put on the market by the Leicester Diocesan Board of Finance.
While it still belongs to the diocese, it is standard practice when selling churches for a preferred buyer to be selected, who then submits a planning application with the church, which then has to be approved before the purchase takes place.
A design statement submitted to the council by the developer's agent, Dinesh Tailor, of DT Designs, said the proposed function room would predominantly cater for events on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays, for about 300 people.
It would also be rented out during the week for corporate meetings of up to 100 people.
Mr Tailor wrote: "The aim of the works is to provide the building with the necessary investment needed to arrest the decline in its fabric and ensure an economically viable future.
"All proposed alterations and particularly the internal elements were conceived to respect the existing structure and enable the original identity and purpose to be readily recognised."
The church was built in about 1875 and designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, the architect responsible for the Midland Grand Hotel, at St Pancras station, and the Albert Memorial, in Kensington Gardens.
The proposal involves demolishing the former church school adjacent to St Saviour's, to make space for a 39-space car park. This was built in 1882 and, after being used as a school, was rented by Leicester City Council as a community centre for about 30 years, until 2008.
The church, which could seat a congregation of 1,000 people, shut in 2005 and has been targeted by vandals.
Mr Tailor's statement added: "The removal of the former community centre building and revised site layout will open the views from the north to display the full extent of the built form."
He also said the renovation would generate work for local tradespeople and the new use would "lead to employment opportunities" for local people.
A spokeswoman for the diocese of Leicester said the application was "good news."
"We care deeply about our buildings, whether they are churches that are in use or no longer in use," she said. "Having a building which will find a new place in the life of Leicester is always good news".
Grahame Lees, spokesman for the Leicester Victorian Society, said the group welcomed plans to bring the building back into use.
"It certainly wants some money spending on it," he said.
"It is a lovely building and hopefully it will be respected. Hopefully, this person will come along and spend the money on it and bring it back into use.
"We never like to see historic buildings sitting empty for longer than they need to."
The Mercury was unable to contact DT Designs or Altaf Gaffar for a comment.