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Historic group tries to save Presbyterian church earmarked for demolition

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Historic group tries to save Presbyterian church earmarked for demolition thumbnailThe current Castlecaulfield Presbyterian Church building. dd3018

RELIGIOUS adherents may be familiar with the Biblical truism that "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it", but for one church, their attempts to have their building demolished could be in vain.
Castlecaulfield Presbyterian Church could be at the centre of a planning battle after Mid-Ulster Council backed a proposal from a Government department to have the building listed, despite preliminary plans being lodged by the church to have it demolished.
Mid-Ulster Council had previously received a preliminary notice from the church proposing its demolition, with construction of a new church across the road, to the rear of the Acheson Hall.
This work would have allowed the church's graveyard to be expanded to include the ground currently occupied by the church building.
It would have also seen the construction of a new creche with additional car parking and associated landscaping.
This preliminary notice, known as a Pre-Application Discussion (PAD), has not yet been followed up with a formal planning application.
It was lodged by the church on 4th November, 2016.
However, Mid-Ulster Council has now given its support to plans to have the church building, which dates back to 1842 listed, following a request from the Department for Communities' Historic Environment Division (HED).
The church is of a Romanesque / barn style design, with a painted, roughcast rendered walling, set within its own mature grounds.
What has attracted the admiration of the HED is that while it is "modest in appearance, with restrained detailing and simple proportions" it "is a well maintained, good example of a mid-nineteenth century rural Presbyterian architecture".
The HED report also states the building is "much enhanced by its churchyard setting, containing a variety of memorials and sandstone obelisk".
It further says the church is "of social interest" as it "has been central to both the physical and spiritual life of the village for generations".
Councillors were asked at a meeting of its Planning Committee if it supported the proposal from the HED.
They were advised that doing so would be on the basis that it "would preserve the character and appearance of the townscape of Castlecaulfield" but were warned that "the listing of the Church would have an impact on how the site could be developed".
And Councillors were advised by the Council to support the proposal to have the building listed.

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