Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Shropshire Star: Call to help buy empty Telford church

An empty Telford church which is for sale could be saved as a public asset if residents rally together to find the £120,000 needed to buy it, it was claimed today.

Community organiser Leigh Ricketts, right, trainee community organiser Kathryn MacDonald and local resident Bill Kirby, launching the appeal to keep All Saints Church, Stirchely, as a community resource

All Saints Church in Stirchley, Telford, is currently on the open market. But Leigh Ricketts, who works with Locality, a body which supports and advises community groups, said it was hoped local people could buy the building and run it themselves.

He said: “The area has a high level of deprivation and what they haven’t got in Stirchley is a community building.

“It’s up for £120,000. I know that seems like a lot of money but it’s the size of a supermarket.

“It’s 3,000 square feet. We want people to think about the potential it could hold as a social enterprise, a community venue, a small business, anything.

“The other people looking at buying it are restaurants, takeaways or the land will be bulldozed.

Mr Ricketts added: “No-one is going to buy the building for the people of the community. I want them to see that once it’s gone it’s gone.”

The former church on Grange Avenue includes a central congregational hall with number of large function rooms, small offices, administration rooms, a kitchen and canteen area and car parking.

It has planning permission for non-residential institutions, including clinics, creches, day centres and museums.

Mr Ricketts added: “If we can get enough people interested we can form a residents’ group and help them to find funding through sources like the National Lottery.”

He is hoping to create a working group to investigate ways of finding the funding needed to save the church and look at possible uses for the building.

Anyone interested should call Mr Ricketts on 07860 781098.