Legal move to close disused Wolverhampton church as cost of repairs to building tops £1m
Formal steps are now being taken to close down a listed church which has been locked up for almost four years due to mounting repair bills.
Legal processes are now being put in place to close down St Luke's Church in Blakenhall, Wolverhampton, as a place of worship.
The Diocese of Lichfield today said efforts had been made to get funding to repair the church, which was built in 1860. But they have not been able to get the amount needed to match the sheer scale of the repairs, with bills running to more than £1 million.
The tower has structural problems, and inspections have shown it is unsafe, meaning parishioners have been forced to meet at nearby St Luke's Primary School instead.
But news that the church is being officially closed down has sparked concerns that the building may just be left to fall into a state of disrepair. Councillor Judith Rowley, representative for
Blakenhall, said: "Given that the building is in a potential and actual dangerous condition and requires at least £1 million spent on it to make it fit for purpose, closure is clearly necessary.
"However, we are less than happy that a Grade II* listed building is now going to be permanently mothballed with no apparent hope of future use."
Consultation on the move is now taking place and will run until February 28.
It proposes the closure of the church for regular worship and the contents of the building being disposed of as the bishop decides. A spokesman for the Diocese of Lichfield said: "The congregation of St Luke's meet in a local school, as their building has been declared unsafe to continue worship.
"Efforts have been made to obtain funds for repair, but there have been no offers that meet the scale of the works needed. The church has now begun a formal legal procedure for the closure of the building, and there will be a consultation about its future use."
The gothic-style building has been dogged by structural problems. Parts of the tower and spire are unsafe, part of the brickwork has been damaged by cleaning, and the roof and floor have dry rot. The heating system has also failed. English Heritage offered a grant for part of the repairs but the parish was unable to secure match funding.
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