Council curbs congregation from knocking down church for improvements (From Richmond and Twickenham Times)
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Richmond Council curbs Teddington congregation from knocking down church for improvements
A congregation has been left in the lurch after the council curbed them from knocking down a dilapidated church so it could be improved.
Christ’s Church in Station Road, Teddington, was fenced off by insurers as part of it is damaged and the roof is failing.
The church, which is an Evangelical break-away from the Church of England, has its own trust, was built almost 150 years ago and is on Richmond Council’s list of buildings with townscape merit.
The church has drained its funds trying to maintain the building and now wants to remove part of it or demolish it, but is prevented from doing so after the council extended a conservation area.
The extension, which now includes the church, means an application must be made to council’s planning authority for permission to demolish the building.
Reverend Dominic Stockford fears the church will cost about £2.5m to repair.
He said: "Things are now up in the air because we are a small congregation.
"We have no financial assets so it has become a bit of a liability for us and we are struggling to know where we are going to go next."
Architect Martin Habell, of Maybourne Projects, said the architects raised concerns with the council that the building could collapse.
He said: "The sudden zoning of the site as conservation area just as we are applying to make the site safe seems directly counter to the council's own policy on dangerous structures, which requires action to remove the threat with the shortest possible delay."
People use the church hall for worship and activities including a chess club and mum and toddler sessions.
Councillor Martin Elengorn, who represents the Teddington ward, said: "I think the council was justified in its decision to enlarge the Teddington High Street conservation area to include Christ Church.
"It is a building of some interest. A lot of locals will say this is a nice old building that they do not want to see knocked down.
"It does not mean what they want cannot happen the way they want but it will have to go through planning."
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