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Work up for grabs as taskforce targets church regeneration

A taskforce to find new community uses for historic churches at risk of closure has been set up by the Churches Conservation Trust

The move could mean a series of new commission for architects - some through design contests - as part of a drive to ‘imaginatively’ re-use redundant churches.

Backed by national, public and church bodies, the Regeneration Taskforce wants to support local community groups who are looking at using churches, which may still have architectural worth, for non-religious purposes.

The taskforce hopes to set up projects in old churches to ensure their survival and show how they can regenerate urban and rural areas. The body will encourage communities around the 340 churches owned by the Churches Conservation Trust to find new uses for the buildings, and search for ways to bring churches facing closure back into the heart of surrounding communities.

The Trust’s major project manager Peter Aiers said it was ‘looking for much more creative talent rather than just relying on conservation architects’. He also promised a series of new contests, with an emphasis on finding designs teams with the ‘right understanding and attitudes’.

The taskforce has already started work to save All Saints Church in Bolton (with OMI Architects - pictured above), St Mary at the Quay in Ipswich, and St Andrew’s in Kingsbury, Brent.

Nick Berry, an associate director at OMI Architects, said: ‘What is good for us and presumably other architects, is the Trust’s support of modern interventions, with the emphasis being on appropriateness and quality of the interventions.

‘There is also a recognition that there is a benefit in spreading the net beyond the usual circle of conservation architects when significant interventions or changes of use are required. At All Souls we are working with a separate conservation specialist who will take care of the all the existing building fabric issues.’

Crispin Truman, chief executive of the Churches Conservation Trust, said: ‘The Regeneration Taskforce will help communities, developers and conservation bodies to save historic churches for future generations by bringing them back into the heart of the community either through a change of use or restorative work.’

For more information about the taskforce’s work click here

Churches Conservation Trust's owned St Marys, Stainburn, North Yorkshire - copyright Martin Priestley

Churches Conservation Trust’s owned St Marys, Stainburn, between Pool-in-Wharfedale and Harrogate, North Yorkshire - copyright Martin Priestley

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