Finding A Suitable Alternative Use

 

When a church is closed for worship, the diocese normally tries to find a suitable alternative use. New uses, often for the benefit of the wider community, have been found for over half of all Anglican churches taken out of parish use since 1969.

Since 1969 alternative uses have been found for over half of all closed church buildings, with more than 130 appropriated for worship by other Christian bodies. This is generally the best use but there are many other suitable uses, including a number offering direct community benefits, for example use as a concert hall or museum, or for other cultural or educational purposes. The main uses to which closed church buildings have been appropriated are set out below. This is not an exhaustive list, nor does it imply that uses not included are to be regarded as unsuitable in principle; if in doubt consult the Commissioners at an early stage. Not every use on the list will be suitable for every closed church building.

The most common alternative uses include:

  • Worship by other Christian Bodies
  • Civic, Cultural or Community Purposes (includes community centre; Lecture or concert hall; Conference hall and Exhibition Centre; Art gallery or heritage or tourist centre; County Record Office; Urban Study and architectural interpretation centre; Youth Work and Night Shelter; Library; Scout and Guide headquarters; Children's Nursery)
  • Monument (for preservation)
  • Residential
  • Storage (includes University book store; scenery and props; warehouse; diocesan furnishings store)
  • Arts and Crafts, Music or Drama Centre (includes arts centre; theatre and restaurant; orchestral or operatic rehearsal hall; Fine Art auctions; craft workshop)
  • Light Industrial/Office/Retail (includes: pottery manufacture; studios and offices; antiques market; retail shops)
  • Private and school chapels
  • Educational purposes
  • Museums (includes: Natural History; Archaeological; Regimental)
  • Adjuncts to adjoining estates
  • Sports use (includes: Squash courts; gymnasium; indoor climbing centre)

The Commissioners have records of all uses found for closed churches and can provide DMPCs with details of specific examples on request. A DMPC representative and the prospective user may wish to visit a successful conversion elsewhere if a particular use is under consideration.

When closure is initially under consideration the Commissioners consult the CBC for early advice on the building and this can provide guidance on the sorts of alternative use which might be suitable. The Pastoral Measure gives the diocese and Commissioners full discretion to find the most suitable alternative use for consecrated buildings and land without an obligation to secure the best price.

If no such use can be found, the choice will normally lie between preservation by the Churches Conservation Trust, (some 21% of closed churches), or demolition (20%). Of those demolished, over two-thirds of their sites have been adapted for community purposes. There is no prior obligation to seek an alternative use if the building is unlisted or outside a conservation area.

 

If you have a general enquiry or comments about these web pages please contact the Closed Churches Division