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Conservation causes problems for churches

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While agreeing with your correspondent Dr Thomas Cooke (aj 19.11.98) that the quality of a church building should not be considered in terms of cost-effectiveness alone, is he not rather optimistic in considering that current listed-building controls (whether secular or denominational) are an effective means of safeguarding church buildings for their congregations 'both present and future'? The previous letter from Tony Bryer (aj 8.10.98) may have overstated the case, but it is certainly true that many growing congregations find themselves at odds with conservation bodies which are unwilling to countenance relatively minor changes to facilitate contemporary forms of worship.

Surely it is the listed-building controls themselves, and, perhaps equally importantly, the sensitivity with which they are applied, which should come under scrutiny if there is a danger of architectural quality becoming a liability rather than an asset.

After all, if the building were a lecture theatre or cinema, what modern audience would settle down for an hour or more on a wooden pew?


pep Architects

Tring, Herts

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