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Canterbury’s Victorian heritage under threat

Two applications to demolish Victorian buildings inside Conservation Areas have been granted approval, now there are fears that a nineteenth century Baptist Church could face the same fate.

Concern has been prompted by plans to demolish the Canterbury Baptist Church and hall on St George's Place. The owners want to replace the 1863 church with a modern building housing a new church and retirement flats.

Approving such a scheme would go against both local and national planning policy as the church lies inside a Conservation Area, and plays a significant role in defining that areas character. But the signs are not good, as two separate applications to demolish historic buildings in conservation areas were recently given approval by Canterbury City Council.

'We are extremely concerned. The city council has a responsibility to care for its built heritage and conservation areas are part of that protection', said Heloise Brown, Conservation Adviser for the Victorian Society. 'But recently the council has overruled its own safeguards and given permission to demolish attractive, adaptable and historic properties on Roper Road and Best Lane.'

The Victorian Society is urging the council to secure a better outcome for the Baptist Church, or its striking façade, original staircases, delicate columns and tall windows will be lost to future generations.

'This is a church with a large and vibrant congregation. The building is robust and adaptable and needs a much more imaginative approach than knock down and rebuild'.

Canterbury's conservation areas must be looked after or a layer of history will be lost to the city.

Update July 2013 - since this story was written the application to demolish the church has been withdrawn, and there is no current threat to the church.

Wednesday 27 January, 2010

More recent item: A house stripped of its period fittings: how to stop your property becoming a target for thieves.
Earlier item: Don’t demolish Kettering’s Edwardian heritage

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