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Last Christmas for historic Midlands Church?

Redditch’s Headless Cross Church will see just one more Christmas if Redditch Borough Council approves plans to demolish it and replace it with housing. The Victorian Society is urging people to object to the application online or face losing the locally listed landmark forever.

Former Methodist Church, Headless Cross

Redditch’s Headless Cross Church will see just one more Christmas if Redditch Borough Council  approves plans to demolish it and replace it with housing. The Victorian Society is opposing the planning application in the hope that the Church can be saved and adapted to a new use. The Victorian Society is urging people to object to the application online or face losing the locally listed landmark forever.

The former Methodist Church closed in 2009 and consent for its demolition was granted earlier this year. The Council is now considering a separate application to build a terrace of nine houses on the site. It is understood that the Council is currently trying to convince the developer to retain the Church’s distinctive steeple in the housing scheme. However, the Victorian Society believes it is not too late to save this landmark building and is urging the Council to go further and entirely reject the application.

The Victorian Society’s objections are not the only hope for the Church which could have an entirely different and somewhat unlikely saviour - bats. Commenting on the application, the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust note that if the former Church contains a bat roost its demolition without a licence would be illegal. The Trust is therefore requesting a survey of the church is undertaken prior to the application being determined.

Tim Bridges, Victorian Society Conservation Advisor, said: ‘The former Church has a very unusual ‘openwork’ stone spire which forms a distinctive landmark and makes a real contribution to the centre of Headless Cross. In our view, this former church - and particularly the tower and spire - is a locally listed building worthy of retention and should be sensitively adapted to a new use. The developers have indicated that reuse of the building would simply be too expensive. However, many similar buildings are successfully repurposed and it is our understanding that the dry rot would be treatable. I would urge local people to object to the application’.

Headless Cross Church was built in 1896-7 to designs by Birmingham’s Ewen Harper. The building’s high quality is reflected by its entry in the respected architectural guide, Pevsner, which describes the Church as 'notable' and a ‘Harper speciality’. J. Alfred and Ewen Harper were also responsible for several important non-conformist buildings in the region including the former Methodist Central Hall in Corporation Street, Birmingham (grade II*- listed) and the former Friends Institute in Moseley Road, Birmingham (grade II*-listed earlier this year).

 

 

Thursday 11 December, 2014

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