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Newall Church Hall, Otley

Plans to demolish a former Sunday School for 8 dwellings:

This building is described as being built in the 1920s, but appears much older by virtue of the weavers cottage style mullion windows.

Built on the grounds of the former Newall Old Hall, which was being demolished simultaneously, the building served the Sunday School congregation of Otley to the North of River Wharf, and was constructed of reclaimed materials from the hall.

8 semi-detached dwellings will replace the building. The hall could have been converted into a dwelling, but arguing against the intensification to 8 houses would need a powerful case for conservation.

The actual building footprint would make way for a single pair of semis and with a bit of creativity the building could be well integrated into the layout to offer an attractive an historic gateway to the new cul-de-sac. The planning industry still has to articulate to the real estate world the notion that identity adds value to property. Until they do, the biggest influence on the design of the built environment will be the land promoters armed with excel.


Loftus Methodist Church


Application to clear the site of Arlington Road primitive methodist chapel in Redcar and Cleveland:

A classic Wesleyan Church in ceremonial North Yorkshire is to be dropped to make way for housing, following an application made by the Council, to the Council.

Loftus is an (almost) coastal market town in Cleveland, and is a hidden gem of heritage.

This building represents the end of the high street and offers a landmark building to round-off the coherent street frontage of the town. Its loss will have a major impact on the townscape.

The church is in the conservation area and contributes immensely to it. The heritage statement argues that because the church is not mentioned directy, it is ‘of little heritage significance’. However the very purpose of a conservation area is a blanket protection, without the need to reference individual buildings, which are usually too numerous to detail but contribute to a heritage townscape.

The usual rhetoric of the building becoming an ‘eyesore’ and a ‘public health and safety concern’ is also present. The statement even argues that the flattened empty plot and close board hoardings would ensure ‘the appearance of the conservation area would be enhanced’

The church (highlighted in red) forms an important part of the historic high street of Loftus (map circa 1900)

This is a good example of the democratic planning process being flouted. How can the Council determine an application submitted by The Council dispassionately? Is there any value in objecting when this is clearly a decision that was made behind closed doors a long time ago?

Former Sunday School, Birr Road, Bradford

Demolition of a stunning listed ecclesiastical building:

Another shocking application to denude Bradford of her history. This is the former Sunday school to the rear of Most Holy Trinity & Our Lady of Pochaiv Church in Manningham, and it is a stunning building, which cumulatively with the church forms an almost abbey size Catholic campus in the city.

The plan is to knock it down and get ten houses in there. Needless to say the housing crisis will be cited by the applicant as justification, when the building could clearly accommodate that many flats, with much lower carbon expenditure required.

A YouTube video here does a brilliant walk-around of the building. The structure appears to be sound. Granted, the windows are boarded up and someone has tagged the shutters, but the masonry looks as fresh as the day it was built. The roof also appears to be in order, particularly for a building that hasn’t been in full use for ten years. Then again, churches are built to last. I mean really last – beyond the market forces and council housing strategies of the moment.

There is no reason to demolish this building other than the fact that it would make more money as developable land. But when a building is listed, and in a conservation area, and immediately adjacent the setting of a church, and is consecrated ground (I could go on…) the economic imperative is second to its heritage significance.

How annoying that the Council is being emotionally blackmailed by the notion of enabling development that would subsidise the main church building. I need only mention that the Catholic Church is rolling in it, and doesn’t need subsidising at the expense of a crime against heritage.

I’m also saddened to see the Ukrainian Church supportive of the proposal. I mean no disrespect, but the congregation should not have the final say as putative owners. It may be their church now, but it wasn’t always. This was built for the people of Yorkshire long before and it remains our history.

Here the Sunday School is shown next to the chapel, known then as St Johns. Map from circa 1900.

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.