Helmdon to lose its 170-year-old chapel

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BAPTISTS in the Tove Valley have asked permission to demolish their 170-year-old chapel in Helmdon after subsidence forced it to close in 2004.

Last week the Tove Valley Baptist Fellowship applied to South Northants Council’s planning department for the demolition of the existing building, replacing it with a pair of two bedroom homes.

Minister Reverend Phil Drage said there are many who might have fond memories of the chapel but it had not been a difficult decision to have it demolished.

Rev Drage said: “The decision was really made for us. Keeping the building, which could not be extended and had no parking, would have cost hundreds of the thousands.”

Rev Drage said the congregation was still thriving and that the renovated chapel in Weston was now serving worshippers and a dozen village communities in area.

In 2004 a vertical fissure in one of the walls suddenly enlarged and a structural survey found that the front of the building was falling away from the rest of the building.

In a statement with planning application to justify the loss of a listed building agents for TVBF, Roger Coy Partnership, said the building would need £250,000 of repairs and renovation and that the Chapel did not posses any real architectural significance when compared to the architectural heritage of other buildings in the village.

Peter Burns, chairman of Helmdon Parish Council said: “There have been a number of applications over many years since the baptist chapel fell into disuse because it was unsafe and wasn’t capable of being renovated and turned back into a proper building.

“At the present moment there a bat survey being sorted out and that will take at least six months.

“The previous applications have gone in with three dwellings which did not find favour with district councillors.

“The main concern for most people is that it is unsafe and in point of fact the Tove Valley Fellowship have made a number of applications none of which found favour with SNC.”

Mr Burns said the parish council had opposed the past application on the grounds that more than two houses were too many and the lack of parking, but the current application had not yet come before them.

He added: “It is just a fact of life. It had been under pinned previously and now has problems again and has been deemed a dangerous building.”

The planning application will be determined by SNC in due course.