Supporters sign up to save historic church

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St Paul’s Church, on Tregolls Road.

21st April 2021

By Juliet Lunam

Nearly 2,500 people have signed a petition to save an historic church in Truro from demolition.
St Paul’s Church, on Tregolls Road, has been under threat since it closed in 2008 because parts are deemed structurally unsound.
The Truro Diocese has been trying to find a buyer – in 2019 it was on the market for £100,000 – but with repair costs estimated in the low millions, nobody is willing to take it on.
Campaigners have been trying to save St Paul’s because of its historic value. The Cornish Buildings Group – a group which champions historic buildings – has gathered thousands of signatures in support with a petition.
Group chairman Paul Holden said St Paul’s is a richly ornamented Grade II-listed structure, designed by 19th century English architect JD Sedding.
It was consecrated in 1864 and extended in the 1880s.
He said: “We believe a new use should be sought for such a significant heritage asset within a conservation area. The Cornish Buildings Group e-petition is now nearing 2,500 signatures and is really gathering momentum.
“The trouble with the building is first the potential cost to repair the tower and second, what to do with a restricted site with no parking and poor access.
“I do believe no-one, including the church commissioners, actually wants the church to be demolished – it is an important heritage asset with strong community memories.
“However, it is a redundant building and something will have to be done in time. It has been on the market for some time with no serious interest taken for re-use.
“If demolition becomes a real prospect it will have to go through a due process which will include the diocese, council and community.“
The e-petition can be found at you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-st-paul-s-church-truro.
Last year a pre-application for demolition was made to Cornwall Council, but it appeared no monitoring of the cracks had been done, as recommended by structural engineers.
An expert from Historic England was believed to have said the delineation of the stone work was not the worst case he had seen.
Cornwall Council said at that time, more evidence was needed about the structural condition.
The Cornish Buildings Group says as no additional information has been submitted, demolition still cannot be supported.
Comments online from people who have signed the petition include: “The parish of St Paul’s was central in my childhood,” and “I went to St Paul’s. The church was cracked then and hasn’t fallen down yet. As a civil engineer I believe it can be saved.”
Cornwall Council said the building was owned by the Diocese of Truro and there are no live planning applications associated with it.
A spokesperson said: “It is a listed building, so formal listed building consent would be required for any works of demolition or alteration.
“Planning permission is likely to be required for any such works and for any new development.
“Input from Historic England, our Conservation Team, National Amenity Societies and the local community would need to be part of any process going forward.”
And a spokesperson for the Diocese of Truro said St Paul’s had been on the market for nearly ten years but added: “Ensuring the building is safe and usable has been estimated at nearly £4 million and no buyer has been found.
“The tower and east end of the church were built from polyphant stone which weathers badly and has a life of only around 100 years when used externally. The east end was added in 1884 and the tower was completed in 1910. An engineering report in 2012 concluded the construction of the tower was critically flawed and in need of rebuilding.
“The diocese always tries to find uses for such buildings which will benefit the community but sadly the building is in such poor condition this has proved impossible.
“We have therefore concluded that despite all our efforts to find a suitable alternative use for the building, the Church Commissioners should take forward discussions with Historic England and then Cornwall Council with regard to the demolition of the church.”

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