Nursery plan for former Wolverhampton church rejected

Plans to convert a redundant Methodist church in Wolverhampton into a children’s day nursery have been rejected.

Wednesfield Methodist Church
Wednesfield Methodist Church

Wednesfield Methodist Church in Wood End Road was closed several years ago due to dwindling congregations, and has since only been used for occasional community functions.

A planning application to turn the premises into a full-time day nursery for 42 children was submitted to the council in February by former Wolverhampton social worker Kirkwood Walker.

Mr Walker, also a five-time world kickboxing champion, first launched his family-run business Little Walkers in 2004 with a nursery in Merridale. Further facilities followed in Bradmore in 2016 and Coseley in 2020.

However, planners took the decision this week to turn the application down on the grounds that the building could be used as a community meeting place.

In a statement refusing permission, planning officer Martyn Gregory said: “The proposed change of use from a Methodist church to a children’s day nursery would result in the loss of a community meeting place.

“The applicant has failed to adequately demonstrate with detailed evidence that there is no longer a need for this facility.

“This buiding is in an area that has been identified as ‘highly accessible’ and is located on a road that can attract high volumes of traffic throughout the day.”

The original application outlined plans to employ eight full-time staff, with operating hours between 7.30am and 6pm Monday to Friday. In terms of parking, the proposals were to retain the six spaces currently available outside the building.

"This fails to meet the transportation needs required for such a facility," added Mr Gregory.

“It would result in an unacceptable detrimental impact on pedestrian safety and the safe and free flow of road traffic, thereby adversely affecting the occupiers of other properties in the vicinity of the site.”

In a letter to planners, Dennis Doughty, property steward for the former church, said: “With regard to the closure, this was due to falling numbers in the congregation attending.

“When it became apparent that the situation wasn’t going to change, and the few people who did attend would not be able to support the finances required, a ‘cease to meet’ instruction from the minister and stewards was put to the Methodist circuit.

“After much deliberation the circuit approved the request to close the church – but it was not a decision taken lightly,” he added.

Councillor Phil Bateman , who represents Wednesfield North, said: “It’s very sad in a way to see the Methodist church in Wood End Road being declared redundant.

“Methodism in Wednesfield seems to be very much in retreat. And in the city centre the religion has also lost the Methodist Central Church in Darlington Street – a magnificent building that is sitting empty now.”

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