A PLANNING application has been submitted to convert a disused Victorian church into a two bedroom home.
St John in the Wilderness, in Whalley Road, Shuttleworth, was built in 1847, but closed its doors in 2017 after it could not raise the £250,000 necessary for repairs.
The church was shut temporarily due to damage to its ceiling in 2016 when an architect’s inspection raised concerns that plaster was chipping away, posing a safety worry.
Following consultations, it was decided that raising the money to pay for the repairs was not feasible.
St John’s is not a nationally listed building but it is on the local Council list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest.
It was designed by renowned architect Edwin Hugh Shellard. The National Heritage List for England shows that at least 23 of his churches are designated as listed buildings, four of them at Grade II.
Under the new proposals, “the existing roof would be stripped and re-laid utilising modern building materials and incorporating conservation type rooflights.”
Existing slates would be re-laid while the vaulted ceilings would remain the same height.
A stone chimney towards the rear of the property would be removed.
A planning statement said: “The applicant considers that the proposal represents an appropriate and sympathetic redevelopment of the former church building that will enhance and preserve the character of the building for the future whilst also adding to the housing stock of the Borough.
“The main impact of the works is to preserve and protect the former church building which has served as the hub of the community for many years but which has, in recent times, fallen into disrepair and this, together with a falling congregation, has led to its ultimate closure.”
Three trees will be removed if the proposals are approved and the church’s existing Remembrance Garden is to be resited by the Church of England albeit a new location is yet to be determined. It is likely to be incorporated into the graveyard on the opposite side of Whalley Road.
The Church of England has also determined that all liturgical items within the building are to be either removed and placed in storage off site or destroyed, under witness, on site.
These items to include the altar, lectern, pulpit, font and the church organ situated at the north end of the worship area.
The pitch pine pews are to be be left and it is hoped that one of these can be retained for decoration.