Buildings to be demolished as part of long-term plan for Hope Methodist Church in Higham Ferrers

Hope Methodist Church in Higham Ferrers
Hope Methodist Church in Higham Ferrers

A number of church buildings will be demolished as part of a long-term plan to renovate the main church building on the same site.

The future of the buildings at Hope Methodist Church in High Street, Higham Ferrers, has been under discussion for more than 20 years.

The last service held there was in 2004 and approval was granted in 2008 for complete demolition of the buildings along with planning permission for construction of a replacement church and community centre.

However, it was not possible to proceed with the scheme for various reasons.

But it has since been agreed by church members to abandon the scheme to redevelop the site with a new church building and to re-focus on a renovation scheme to safeguard the main church building and try to maintain its positive contribution to the High Street and conservation area.

Church trustees applied to demolish the hall and ancillary structures to the rear of the church and this has just been approved by East Northamptonshire Council.

A report submitted as part of the application said the buildings have deteriorated rapidly and while attempts have been made to stop people getting in, there is evidence of people getting in and causing further damage.

The main church building appears to be structurally sound and it is hoped that with some remedial work it can be made weather-tight again.

The hall and associated facilities to the rear are in very poor condition, with areas where water has got in through the roof and caused irreparable damage to the timber floor and roof structures.

In most areas the floorboards have completely rotted away and the timber joists are starting to fail.

There are also significant outbreaks of dry rot in the rear set of rooms, which is moving into the main church building due to the high levels of dampness.

The report states: “Outline sketch ideas have been prepared and will be developed in the coming months, but in the first instance, the priority is to safeguard the main area of the church building, from further decay and critically to stop the spread of the dry rot.

“The means to achieve this are to restore and maintain dry conditions in the parts of the building to be retained by undertaking repairs to the external fabric, and also to demolish the hall and buildings to the rear as soon as possible.”

The report said the enclosures around the pulpit and organ will be retained, and added: “It is very much hoped that now the decision has been taken by the church to retain, renovate and extend the most prominent building on the site, the future of the site will once more be home to a worshipping community engaged with its neighbourhood and contributing to the life of the surrounding area.”

Higham Ferrers Town Council unanimously supported the application and a senior conservation officer welcomed the church’s decision to re-use the existing building.

Since leaving the High Street premises, regular Sunday services have taken place with the congregation from Park Road Methodist Church at the St Peter Apostle RC Church Hall in Rushden.