Battle of Naseby campaigners 'left reeling' after visitor centre plans at village church fall through
Campaigners hoping to build a new visitor centre to mark the Battle of Naseby say they have had their hopes dashed after church leaders objected to plans.
The Naseby Battlefield Project (NBP) had wanted to build the new centre within Naseby Church and discussions had been on-going since 2013.
But the church says that, while they support the aims overall of the NPB, the specific plans put forward would have had too much of an impact on the "fabric and integrity" of the church building.
The plans would have added a mezzanine floor to the church and a memorial to those who lost their lives at the Battle of Naseby, as well as toilet and kitchen facilities. The Battle of Naseby took place on June 14, 1645.
NBP trustee Mike Ingram said the partnership with the parochial church council had begun in 2013 and consultation with villagers had shown "overwhelming support".
But earlier this month, the group was informed that the church did not support the plans put forward.
"We are in a state of shock and, to be honest, we don't know where we are going with this now," Mr Ingram said.
"The plans started in 2013 when we first met with the church and the plans have changed over time to try to accommodate everyone's needs.
"We are quite stunned by what has happened. It was the plan that we really wanted to do and, to be honest, the changes to the church were not that huge," Mr Ingram added.
The priest in charge of Naseby Church, the Rev Canon Miranda Hayes, does not agree with that assessment.
"The situation is that we continue to support the idea of the project working with the church. The issue was with this particular proposal that they have put forward," the Rev Hayes explained.
"The plans would have meant a mezzanine floor extending out three-quarters of the length of the church. It would have had a huge impact."
The Rev Hayes said that she appreciated the frustration for those involved in the project but the church had to give consideration to all users of the building, not just the congregation. The church is used for concerts and other events through the year, she said, and the mezzanine floor would have a significant impact.
As to what happens next, Mr Ingram said they would be considering all their options and looking for a possible alternative venue.