Joy at £682k investment in historic site
NEARLY £700,000 will be spent on repairing, re-roofing and and re-opening Kingswood’s historic Whitfield Tabernacle.
The funding from the West of England Combined Authority’s Love Our High Streets project has been confirmed and will mean work can begin on restoring the derelict building.
Trustees are delighted that they will be able to pursue their dream of creating a performing arts venue at the town centre site.
The Whitfield Tabernacle dates back to 1741 and is known as the birthplace of the Methodist movement. The site is a Conservation Area but has been in a state of disrepair for 27 years. The Tabernacle is said to be one of the most at-risk Grade 1 listed buildings in the country.
The area also includes the Grade II listed Masters Church, which Crossman Homes have been given permission to turn into 19 apartments along with three new homes, and the adjoining graveyard, which is set to be turned into a park.
The developers say they are working with South Gloucestershire Council and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to sympathetically restore and protect graves on the site and create a community space, which they will gift back to the council on completion.
The council is expected to invite the public to comment on its plans over the coming months.
South Gloucestershire Council leader Toby Savage said the much-needed investment of £682,000 offered great potential for Kingswood town centre,
“The regeneration of the Whitfield Tabernacle plays a significant part in the bigger vision we have for rejuvenating Kingswood and this funding will help us significantly to seize this opportunity, not only to bring this run-down site back into public use, but to deliver new and exciting services,” he said.
Tim Bowles, West of England Mayor, said: “Breathing new life into the Whitfield Tabernacle is a great example of how our Love our High Streets project is helping to revitalise local communities by giving high streets and town centres a real boost.
“The future of our high streets isn’t just about shops, it’s about our businesses, community activities and the way that spaces are used.”
Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore said: “Renovating our historic Tabernacle has been a personal mission of mine and I am delighted with this massive investment which marks a turning point for Kingswood’s regeneration. I am very grateful to WECA and the Council for their combined efforts in moving this project forward.
“This site has the potential to be the catalyst for the wider plan to rejuvenate Kingswood High Street and I am sure residents will be pleased by the prospect of having a brand new creative, cultural and heritage centre to enjoy.”