West Lindsey District Council planners have given the green light for a former Methodist church to be demolished to make way for new homes.
Market Rasen Methodist chapel in Union Street will be knocked down and six Victorian-style houses, designed to fit in with neighbouring homes, will be built in its place.
The Methodist Hall, built in 1861, has not been used for worship for more than 50 years and lies in the Market Rasen Conservation Area.
Agents Rob Bradley Building Design, for developers Rasen Property Services, submitted plans for the site to WLDC back in June 2014.
A structural engineer’s report, included in the planning application, said that the old Methodist Hall, which has been used as a tyre and exhaust repair servicing business, was ‘in a run down condition with no apparent occupation for some years’.
It said broken windows have allowed wild pigeons to nest and breed and the detritus from the birds was reported to ‘present a health hazard to anyone entering the building’.
The report said plaster had fallen from ceilings exposing timber lathes, a timber first floor had rotten joists and boards, and the external walls are poor with crumbling caused by frost damage and water erosion.
Windows and doors are also rotten, the report said.
And the report went on to say that repair and renovation costs would be three to four times that of a rebuild and the existing building would need ‘some degree of architectural ingenuity’ to convert to housing.
It suggested a new build development would lead to dwellings which were ‘more fit for purpose and efficient than a refurbished alteration of the existing structure’.
A design and access statement, submitted as part of the planning application, said: “Over and above the findings of the [structural] engineer, there are design and economy problems with the building.
“Aside from massive build costs, the layout of any dwellings – presumably flats – would be compromised by the large rectangular nature of the building.
“Each dwelling would have generous floor areas but small areas of external walling with the result that rooms further into the building would struggle to have any natural light.”
And this report said the town was a ‘priority’ for regeneration.
It stated: “The application site is located in the town of Market Rasen which is a priority for regeneration and investment activity.
“The project involves the removal of a building that is in poor condition and would have little potential for reuse even if it were in a better state.
“Replacing it with housing is a good form of infill development using previously developed land.”
The applicant went on to say there was an ‘urgent’ need to new housing in West Lindsey.
The report stated: “There is an urgent need for new housing in the country generally and in West Lindsey in particular. Only half the required amount of dwellings are built each year.
“Lincolnshire has the fastest growing population in the country due to the influx of migrant workers and those retiring to the area. The population of 690,000 is expected to grow to 860,000 by 2029.
“Every modest windfall development makes a contribution to addressing these issues.”
The Methodist Chapel in the town’s Union Street closed as a place of worship in 1963 and since then its uses have included a tyre service centre and, most recently, a storage unit.
The chapel was built to replace the Weslyan Reform Chapel, built in 1852 at the end of a passage off Union Street.
The future of the unused chapel has long been a talking point in Market Rasen with readers making the following suggestions:
“A museum would be an asset to the town. There will be no shortage of items to trace the history of the town and the areas around. Schools and playgroups could visit.”
”Turn the chapel into a Heritage Centre focusing on Rasen but incorporating the surrounding areas.”
“Small businesses could work in there. The downstairs could be a lounge area with a cafe and guest artistes playing music”