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Redundant Churches

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 8 May 2008

1. What the policy of the commissioners is on redundant churches for which dioceses have found no alternative use. (204051)

Good morning, Mr. Speaker. With your permission, may I draw the attention of the House to the Church Commissioners’ excellent results for last year? The value of assets has grown to £5.67 billion, and £37 million more has been returned to the Church each year during the past decade. Those are figures of which the commissioners and the Church are justly proud.

In response to my hon. Friend’s question, the arrangements for settling the future of redundant churches are set out in the Pastoral Measure 1983.

To what extent will the commissioners and my hon. Friend take account of the views of Sir Roy Strong in his book “A Little History of the English Country Church” about the variety of uses that local communities would find of value to them in using redundant church premises?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for mentioning Sir Roy Strong, whose work is closely followed within the Church. He is a renowned campaigner for making Church heritage live—not just preserving the heritage, but doing things with it. That is a concept with which we can all agree.

On the essence of my hon. Friend’s question, in most cases an alternative use is found for churches that have closed down, and where not, the commissioners have to decide, after consulting their statutory advisers, between preservation in the Churches Conservation Trust or demolition.