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Outstanding Yorkshire church at risk from damaging development

The setting of Harrogate's only Grade I-listed building could be irreparably damaged if plans to build a large electricity substation in its grounds are given the go-ahead.

The Victorian Society has opposed the proposals and is urging energy officials in North Yorkshire to find an alternative site for Harrogate's new electricity substation.

St Wilfrid's Church on Duchy Road in Harrogate was designed by Temple Moore, one of the greatest church architects of the early twentieth century. Less than 3% of all listed buildings in the country are given a Grade I-listing. St Wilfrid's is considered nationally important enough to be Grade I and is also Harrogate's only such building.

This is the backdrop against which plans to build a new electricity substation must be viewed.

The current proposal by energy provider, NEDL is to build a large industrial building on a former tennis court within the grounds of St Wilfrid's church. The company argues that this land is underused by both the church and the town. But the plans mean that a modern utilitarian building will be sited just 20 metres from the Grade I listed church.

'This is a proposal which might seem plausible on paper; Harrogate needs a new electricity substation and the Church would benefit from a regular income to maintain its wonderful Grade I-listed building. But the reality is very different and this proposal would be extremely damaging to the church', said Alex Baldwin, Conservation Adviser for the Victorian Society.

The Society also believes the design is entirely wrong. This is not a small utility building which might be screened but a bold design which draws attention to itself, and away from the church.

Ms Baldwin added, 'This is a clear case of the wrong place and the wrong building. The need for a new substation is proven, there is no need to damage Harrogate's most important historic building in the process. We urge NEDL to look again for an alternative site'.


Wednesday 17 March, 2010

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