raised over plans to demolish 'historic' Highbridge church
have been raised this week that a 'historic' former church in Highbridge
is set to be demolished without any public consultation first.
former Highbridge Gospel Tabernacle building in Newtown Road is
due to be pulled down after its owner lodged a Demolition Order
with Sedgemoor District Council.
concern that Highbridge is about to lose more of its rich cultural
heritage without anyone knowing what will replace it," Highbridge
town councillor John Parkes, pictured, told Burnham-On-Sea.com
residents have got in touch with me about the planned demolition.
As the building is not occupied, there's no planning application
process to go through."
owner is correctly following the planning rules, but we'd just like
to know what the future holds for the site. We don't want another
Highbridge Hotel situation, albeit on a smaller scale where the
site is left vacant for a protracted period of time. Regardless
of the site being a bit of an eyesore, it will be a shame if another
part of Highbridge's heritage is lost and more housing is built."
District Council spokeswoman Claire Faun confirmed to Burnham-On-Sea.com:
"We have received a demolition order. It is an advisory form,
not one for us to consider approving or not. It is not a listed
building or in a conservation area. The owner of a building can
apply to us for an order - and we advise them of the process they
have to follow under Section 80 of the Building Act."
years ago, in 2007, we reported on a petition
to try and seek improvements for the derelict church but no
action was forthcoming despite local residents' concerns about the
condition and use of the property.
The story behind Highbridge's former Gospel Tabernacle:
historians believe the building in Newtown Road was initially
built as a Seamans Mission.
It later became the Plymouth Brethren Gospel Hall but was
apparently closed in the early 1950s.
later re-opened and in 1973 the South and West Evangelical
Trust gave the Reverend Black the use of the building who
spent several years repairing it, overseeing roof repairs
and a new floor.
attempt was made to purchase land at the rear so that the
church could expand and build toilets, but this was unsuccessful.
Despite this, the hall was renamed the Gospel Tabernacle Evangelical
Church and it became popular with meetings for children, with
up to five meetings a week attracting 60-80 children.
1991, the Reverend Black retired and moved back to the States.
One of his sons, Kelton, continued his fathers work
at the Gospel Tabernacle for several years however the condition
of the property was poor and it was found to be impossible
to improve the facilities inspite of all their efforts.
the mid-1990s the Salvation Army Citadel in the old Burnham
Road came on the market and it was purchased by the South
and West Evangelical Trust who then provided the opportunity
for a new Gospel Tabernacle Evangelical Church
to be introduced. Their first service was held on Easter Sunday,
1998, and the Newtown Road property has been disused