£50m Porters Field scheme puts historic Dudley church 'at risk'

A £50 million retail and leisure development planned for Dudley threatens the existence of an historic church, its has been claimed.

Artist's impressions of how the Porters Field development will look
Artist's impressions of how the Porters Field development will look

Parish leaders from Our Blessed Lady & St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Church fear the redevelopment of the eyesore Cavendish House site could put the future of the church at risk.

The church, at the junction of St Joseph Street and Trindle Road, has lodged strong objections to the proposals for the Porters Field development in their current form, insisting they will have a 'severely detrimental impact'.

Officials say the major scheme will result in a loss of parking for the church, while 'fundamental' changes to the road network will have a 'profound effect on how the site can operate'.

The long-awaited redevelopment of the derelict Cavendish House office block, which overlooks Duncan Edwards Way, promises to transform that part of Dudley town centre, bringing new shops, homes and scores of jobs.

But it has caused major concern for church leaders, who said it has had no contact from applicants Avenbury Properties.

Cavendish House

The objection from the grade II-listed church, which was founded in 1840, potentially causes a headache for planners behind the scheme.

A formal letter of objection from the Archdiocese of Birmingham, on behalf of Our Blessed Lady & St Thomas, said: "The immediate setting of the church will be fundamentally changed by the development. As the proposal currently stands, it has a severely detrimental effect on the setting of the church and while the development may allow 'the church to remain in its current location' the details will have a potentially severe implication on the ability to operate in that setting.

"The alteration to the road network will have a severely detrimental impact on the church that the applicants have not sought to recognise, let alone address."

The Diocese said it was not against the redevelopment of the Cavendish House site in principle, but added: "The development would, in its current state, put the future of this grade II-listed building with national interest at risk. It would be most inappropriate to support a speculative redevelopment scheme like this in the face of such a risk."

Dudley councillor Ken Finch urged both parties to come together to find a solution to suit everybody.

He said: "I accept the fact the church has been there for years and we have got to respect their wishes. From my vast experience we can always get round these things by getting around the table. That's the only way."

Avenbury Properties could not be contacted for comment.

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