call for halt to plans to demolish Highbridge gospel church
residents are calling for a halt to the proposed demolition of a
derelict church in the town without a 'robust action plan' for the
future of the site being in place first.
former Highbridge Gospel Tabernacle building in Newtown Road is
due to be pulled down after its owner submitted a Demolition Order
with Sedgemoor District Council, as we first reported
resident Sarah Buchanan has written to the council with her concerns
about the plans, writing: "I object as once the building is
demolished it's just going to sit there a vacant site like the Highbridge
Hotel or the old FF&F building on the corner of Market Street.
Do we really want another piece of bollarded-up derelict land?"
building is a part of the history of this town since the mid 1800s
and should not be demolished without a robust action plan first.
The council should place a preservation order on the building and
force the owner to either sell it or develop it into something to
suit the residential area and street scene."
Highbridge town councillor John Parkes, pictured, told Burnham-On-Sea.com
this week: "There's
concern that Highbridge is about to lose more of its cultural heritage
- it's been a community facility for many years."
is very sad to see the church in its current state but we'd just
like to know what the future holds for the site before it is demolished.
We don't want another Highbridge Hotel situation."
are rightly concerned about what will happen in the medium to long
District Council's planning department are consulting on the plans
until January 14th, 2017.
years ago, in 2007, we reported on a petition
to try and seek improvements for the derelict church but no
action was forthcoming despite residents' concerns about the condition
of the property.
The story behind Highbridge's former Gospel Tabernacle:
historians believe the building in Newtown Road was initially
built as a Seamans Mission.
It later became the Plymouth Brethren Gospel Hall but was
apparently closed in the early 1950s.
later re-opened and in 1973 the South and West Evangelical
Trust gave the Reverend Black the use of the building who
spent several years repairing it, overseeing roof repairs
and a new floor.
attempt was made to purchase land at the rear so that the
church could expand and build toilets, but this was unsuccessful.
Despite this, the hall was renamed the Gospel Tabernacle Evangelical
Church and it became popular with meetings for children, with
up to five meetings a week attracting 60-80 children.
1991, the Reverend Black retired and moved back to the States.
One of his sons, Kelton, continued his fathers work
at the Gospel Tabernacle for several years however the condition
of the property was poor and it was found to be impossible
to improve the facilities inspite of all their efforts.
the mid-1990s the Salvation Army Citadel in the old Burnham
Road came on the market and it was purchased by the South
and West Evangelical Trust who then provided the opportunity
for a new Gospel Tabernacle Evangelical Church
to be introduced. Their first service was held on Easter Sunday,
1998, and the Newtown Road property has been disused