Archive | Churches RSS for this section

Salem Chapel, Bradford

Application to demolish a church and build an industrial unit:

Above: The Victorian Chapel that has been used as a community centre until 2018.
Below: The grey mass that would replace it

An important church in Bradford is facing demolition to make way for an industrial unit. A few people are to blame for the chain of events that have led to this.

The building is robust, and having been in use until 2018 is clearly a viable property for repurposing. The fact that an application to change the building into retail use went in recently is testament to this. Unfortunately the council refused this application as the area is not designated for retail use in the local plan. They call this zoning and is anathema to British planning.

This would have resulted in the building being retained in perpetuity, but alas Braford Council have put the future of this church in jeopardy. And that is the argument the owner is using to justify its destruction. That refusal means the building cant be sold to a potential retail business.

The comments in ‘support’ of the development concern me. ‘Neighbours’ welcoming the removal of this eyesore (really? a historic Victorian church I an eyesore?), and suggesting this single industrial unit will usher in an industrial renaissance for the city. Lets be honest, these are the developer’s mates. I hope the case officer sees through this ruse.

Salem Chapels were built by independent congregations in various Northern industrial cities and are a fundamental component of Victorian civic development. The equivalent in Leeds in grade II listed. The Leeds chapel dates from 1791. If this chapel is of a similar age, its loss would be criminal.

Maps from circa 1888 show the church in place, but it is likely to long pre-date this.

Shade Chapel, Todmorden

Application to demolition a Wesleyan Church in Calderdale:

Shade church

Sadly, this building resides on top of a culverted river, which during a storm in February partially collapsed.

The threat of further collapse and the flood hazard this would create has necessitated the demolition of the church.

The building was very tastefully converted into residential use and was a paragon of heritage renewal which makes this even more of a pity.

St Mary’s, Richmond Hill, Leeds

Application to demolish a prominent catholic church in Leeds:


St Marys proposed

An application to demolish half of this Catholic church and the neighbouring presbytery has been made, following a long dialogue with Leeds City Council to solve the problem of this abandoned building.

The building is prominent and is the highest point of the built landscape on Richmond Hill, being visible from many gateways into the city. LVIAs have noted this, which has informed the design that looks to emulate the massing of the original nave.

However, in my own opinion, the retention of the north-facing elevation shown in the above image is imperative when even considering these proposals as acceptable.

The Presbytery is also a stunning Victorian building which will be lamentably lost and replaced with a cuboid of an architectural language that is already beginning to look dated. If only an urban designer were involved with this project, the use of the heritage and geographic assets of this location would have been much more sensitive.DSC_2235

Then there is the interior, which is a stunningly vaulted space, tantamount to a medieval abbey.

The tragedy of all this is that within a mile of this old church are around 10 new immigrant congregations, filling former warehouses each week on the verges of strategic highways. If only they could occupy this space instead.

East Ardsley Methodist Church

Small Methodist church to be demolished in the centre of East Ardsley:

East Ardsley Methodist church.JPG


A village already stripped bare of much of its history, particularly along the high street, the purge will continue with the loss of this modest but vital Methodist church.

It is not about the merits of the individual building, but what the building embodies – clearly not much capital was available from the Wesleyans, but nonetheless the built a temple in this small industrial village.

The built form that constitutes the centre of a settlement is so vital to a sense of place. We can not judge buildings by their individual merit, but by what they contribute to the overall street form. Planning mechanisms that protect this are scarce and seldom called upon.

Former Methodist School, Farnley

Demolition of former snooker club, Farnley

Leeds snooker club.JPG

Quite a nice building that provides some nice high street active frontage. Not historical in the sense of The Royal Cresent or Saltaire, this building was erected in 1905 as a Methodist School and plays a part in the history of Leeds, which is a relatively modern city.

Maybe not the greatest loss, but my worry is that it will be replaced with a design that does not contribute to an active streetscape. Old building are very good at this.

St Cecilia’s Church, Sheffield

Plans to demolish a church in a housing estate in Sheffield:

St Chaucers church

This pleasant building represents an excellent 1930s effort at a Norman revival from the latter end of the most recent church building age. The building has been threatened for a while, but it seems that the asset strippers at CofE have decided that flattening the sit – hiatus – selling the site, is the most tactical approach to use here. Very sweet building that could have been saved if only it was positioned elsewhere, outside of this housing market area in suburban Sheffield.

Its only a church, get rid


This week sees the application to demolish the Wesleyan Church on Gib Lane in Skelmanthope; a street which is seamlessly historic, and is vital to the fabric of this small West Yorkshire town with a fascinating social history.

A similar chapel has already been successfully converted into flats within Skelmanthorpe. Lets not be lackluster with our housing. Please oppose this application by contacting Kirklees council.


I wonder what will happen to the stonework throughout the building engraved with the names of patrons of the church. It would seem their eternal homage in civic infrastructure will not be so trannt.