Demolition of historic Bishop's Castle chapel put on hold
The brakes have been put on the planned demolition of a Shropshire chapel after the building was judged to have historical significance.
Work was scheduled to start on January 22 to bring down Bishop's Castle Methodist Chapel, which members say is no longer fit for purpose.
But when fences and machinery appeared at the site, concerns were raised to Shropshire Council about what the loss of the building would mean for the town.
The council has now issued an 'Article 4 Direction' on the building, which introduces the requirement for planning permission for something which would not normally need it - in this case demolition. The direction, under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015, will expire after six months unless it is confirmed by the council in that time.
In his report on the chapel, planning officer Andy Wigley said that while it was not a listed building, it was adjacent to the boundary of the town's Conservation Area and was considered by the council to be a "non-designated heritage asset".
He said: "The church building is understood to have been built in 1904 as a Primitive Methodist Church and on the site of an earlier church building of 1864. It is therefore considered to have historical interest through its links to the development of the Methodist faith in south-west Shropshire, and communal interest through its role as a non-conformist place of worship."
The report also said the chapel, as one of the principal surviving historic buildings on Station Street, made a "significant contribution to the character and amenity of this part of the town".
Mr Wigley concluded: "It is considered that the demolition of the Methodist Church would result in total loss of its significance as a non-designated heritage asset. Further, that its demolition would have a detrimental impact on the setting of the Conservation Area and the character and amenity of the area."
Announcing the planned demolition last month, the church council said it was due to a decline in membership and the lack of funding for necessary renovations to keep the chapel in a usable condition.
Following the issue of the direction, Rev Hazel Ratcliffe said the demolition was now on hold and the church was taking advice on how to proceed.
Representations are being invited from the public until March 5, which the council will then consider when deciding whether to confirm the direction.