Coventry residents will have say on church listing despite mixed views

Campaigners are increasingly hopeful Hearsall Baptist Church will be saved from bulldozers after the site was put up for sale
-Credit: (Image: Reach Plc)

Coventry residents will be asked for their views on whether a much-loved 1920s church should be listed by the council. A six-week consultation on the designation for Hearsall Baptist Church is likely to go ahead next month.

Listing would mean the church building's heritage value must be considered in decisions on any planned redevelopment. The move was called for in a petition backed by 1,000 people last year after the buildings went on sale.

But councillors were at odds over the decision to take the step forward at a meeting earlier this week, 17 June. Shadow cabinet member Cllr Marcus Lapsa (Con, Westwood) claimed a consultation would be "a waste of money."


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"Looking at the type of properties [we've] looked at in the past, this would not have even been considered," he added. Cllr Lapsa said he understood why people wanted the star to be protected.

But he pointed out the popular Christmas decoration has been excluded from the listing, with officers in the report explaining this would be impractical as it is not a permanent feature. Cllr Lapsa claimed the heritage value goes down "considerably" if the star is left out.

But his fellow shadow cabinet member Roger Bailey (Con, Cheylesmore) said he believes the building "has heritage value." "A lot of people dismiss 20th century value," he added.

Cllr Bailey said it is good the move is going to consultation so the council can get a "much broader view." "I'd like to hear the greatest voice out there," he added.

Cllr David Welsh (Lab, St Michael's) agreed that there is quite a high standard in what the council lists, but said there is still a process they need to go through including getting locals' views. He told councillors: "I want to make sure our heritage assets are valued, [I] want to make sure historic buildings have a future."

He admitted church buildings can face particular problems, adding: "This is something we have to recognise. For buildings to have a future they have to have a purpose and use."

He stressed the decision is "not certain" and will depend on what happens. A report by council officers found that the church may be able to meet the council's listing standards.

But they said this depends on more research and the public consultation. They recommended it take a step forward and go to the community for comment.

Cllr Welsh backed the move but changed the wording to make it clear that the public will be asked about the move for six weeks, and will consider the "potential" for the church to be included in the list.

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