An action group has formed to fight proposals by a church to redevelop its land in Fulwood.Advertisement
St Martin’s parish hall and church in Broadway, off Black Bull Lane, is earmarked for demolition and a housing complex, chapel and new parish hall would be built.
The current parish hall is used by a wide range of community groups in Fulwood ranging from the girl guides to toddler groups.
Part of the Diocese of Blackburn and linked with St John’s church in Broughton, the church says the maintenance costs and state of the St Martin’s buildings mean demolition is the most cost-effective solution.
The new complex would include 14 properties, including nine two-bed apartments for the over-55s, a detached house and four semi-detached houses.
A meeting was held on Sunday 11 November for groups affected and residents nearby to find out more about the proposals.
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Girl guide leader and the chairwoman of the newly formed Fulwood Community Action Group Monica Smirk said: “There were a lot of people who came away from the meeting on that Sunday feeling very frustrated.
“We felt as though the church had not been completely upfront with people about the proposals and there was a feeling they didn’t really want to listen to what we had to say.
“There’s some numbers in their proposals that we feel just don’t add up and we will be looking closely at these.
“I think the fact they are excluding the community is a backwards step. Church congregations are in decline and are not getting any younger, so to potentially cut off the facility that brings younger people into the church is a strange decision.
“In terms of a future venue for the guide group, we are one of the largest in Lancashire with more than 100 girls on our books and of ten venues we have seen none come close to what we have available at St Martin’s. It will be a real shame if we have to disband the group or use multiple venues.”
Reverend Shaun Baldwin said “The decision to move forward with plans to redevelop the site of St Martin’s Chapel and Hall is one that has been taken prayerfully and with careful consideration of all options.
“As charity trustees the ruling body of our church has a duty to ensure the best possible management of the assets we own to fully support our key aim which is, of course, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ through mission in and with the local community.
“This site belongs to the parish church and financially it is simply not viable for us in its current form. We must take action.
“Sadly, the present building is not fit for purpose and costs for refurbishment are coming in at upwards of £600,000 inc.VAT.
“So, we are proposing to redevelop instead – and in the process we would create a brand-new community facility, which will include a new chapel and church hall, a parish office, a fully equipped kitchen and other rooms for parish and community use.
“It is hugely regrettable that, as part of the planned redevelopment, some of the current facilities would be lost. We wish there was another way to achieve the same outcome, but we are confident the vast majority of people in the parish and local community would be delighted with the planned new facility.
“The proposed redevelopment work would be funded by the sale of part of the land to build nine apartments for over-55s plus five houses to be sold on a shared-ownership basis to ensure affordability.
“Following the public meeting on Sunday, November 11, we have heard the breadth of opinions expressed by the wider community and we need now to pray and reflect on the discussions.”
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No planning application has been lodged for the site at this stage.
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