14th Dec, 2017

Charity revives campaign to save 'magnificent' landmark church

Andy Morris 10th Oct, 2017

CAMPAIGNERS hope to save a ‘magnificent’ landmark church which has stood empty for seven years.

Christian charity Greater Things Rugby wants the former St Matthew’s Church building in Bloxham Place to return to community and Christian use.

The 176-year-old building, owned by The Church Commissioners for England, held its last service in 2010 when it was found to require £1million of repair work – with the congregation moving to St Oswald’s on Lawford Road.

In 2013, Greater Things put in an offer to buy it with the help of a benefactor – but it was then withdrawn from sale.

With the owners now considering putting it back on the market, Greater Things has launched a survey to ask Rugbeians how the building should be used.

Greater Things trustee Rob Saunders said the charity still had access to a substantial sum of money that could be the seed for a community project.

He said: “We have always thought the old church building represents an opportunity that could be grasped. The current condition of the building is an issue that can’t be ignored, but as a listed building it can’t just be flattened.

“To replace such a magnificent space would cost millions. Adaptive re-use for any purpose would also costs a lot, but for use as a space, probably not as much as people think.

“Some of the best alternative uses for old churches are where they have been sympathetically adapted for the community. As a Christian group, we would simply like to see it used again, for both wider church activity and for community use.

“The response and engagement of people in Rugby through the survey will provide helpful data and potentially even the possibility of developing partnerships to take it forward.”

In 2013, the former church, which sits off the gyratory system opposite Rugby School, was marketed as ‘suitable for a variety of uses, subject to planning permission’ for offers around £300,000.

It has also been identified and recorded as an Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act 2011.

Visit www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/LF5WSWF or the Rugby Christian Bookshop in Castle Street to complete the survey, which runs until October 27.

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