Masters Church plan takes step forward
LISTED building consent has been given to turn Kingswood's Grade II Masters Church into 19 apartments.
The church, which can be glimpsed down an alley way off Regent Street, is on the same site as the historic Grade I Whitfield Tabernacle, Grade II Chapel House and graveyard.
Planning permission has yet to be approved for the decaying church although the granting of listing building consent is seen as a significant step forward.
The Masters Church stopped being used for worship in 1983 when the site was declared redundant.
Crossman Homes bought the land next to the Tabernacle, which contains the Masters Church, from the PG Group in May.
As well as wanting to convert the church into 19 apartments, the company hopes to build three homes on the site and turn the graveyard into a public park.
The site, regarded as the birthplace of the Methodist movement, has had an uncertain future, dogged by complex planning and ownership issues.
The Tabernacle, which is on Historic England’s Heritage At Risk Register, is now owned by a trust which is seeking funds in order to preserve the historically significant building and turn it into community use.
The trust recently funded display boards alongside the Tabernacle in Park Road which tell of the building's rich past.
WECA funding, through its Love Our High Streets project, will pay for a scheme of stabilisation to protect the Tabernacle while a bid for further cash is considered through the government’s Future High Streets Fund.
Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore said: “The Whitfield Tabernacle site is the historic jewel in Kingswood’s crown and is of huge international significance. It’s a disgrace that the site looks the way it does and that this has gone on for so long.
“Kingswood residents have waited long enough for this site to be properly restored so it can contribute to and celebrate our town’s proud history.”
The Whitfield Tabernacle marks the start of the evangelical revival that grew as a result of the preaching of Methodist George Whitefield.
It was built in 1741 and was extended twice before the congregation out-grew it and moved to the new, larger Masters Church, which was built in 1851.