Thu, 19 Dec 2019
Planners have held a drop-in session for Bradfield residents over the proposed sale of a local church.
For years, plans for the redevelopment of St Andrew’s Church have caused heated debate in the village.
The Grade II-listed facility has not held regular services since 2015, when excessive maintenance costs forced its closure.
Now, church commissioners from the Oxford Diocese have prepared a draft scheme for the sale of the building.
An informational drop-in session for locals to fill them in on the plans was held on December 10 at nearby St Peter’s Church, Bradfield Southend.
Previous plans had included the conversion of the premises for residential use.
The new scheme, however, proposes St Andrew’s sale ‘for use as a library and for education, cultural and community uses’.
Bradfield College is understood to be the buyer.
It is standard practice for church authorities to consult with the community prior to the sale of a local church.
However, the fate of St Andrew’s has proven a particularly complex and protracted matter.
The building dates back to the 14th century and was renovated in the 1820s in the European Gothic style.
Both Kate and Pippa Middleton were christened there and many Bradfield residents have strong opinions on its preservation.
Concerns have also been raised over the fate of the churchyard.
Oxford Diocese director of communications Steven Buckley said: “Discussions to sell the church building have been going on for some time.
“The church building passed from the PCC to the diocese on formal closure of the church.
“The agreed purchaser is Bradfield College and the proceeds of the sale will help to fund a new church at the centre of the community where the congregation is growing.”
Bradfield College head Dr Christopher Stevens said: “St Andrew’s Church has been closely associated with Bradfield College since the mid-19th century when our founder, Thomas Stevens, the local parson, expanded the church substantially along with his friend, the architect George Gilbert Scott.
“The college has held preliminary discussions with Historic England and the local conservation officer over this Grade II-listed building to create a unique learning centre, including a library, seminar rooms, a dedicated presentation space and a café, while retaining the architectural features that make it such a special place.
“In addition, St Andrew’s would provide opportunities for occasional acts of worship, bible study etc for a college which remains rooted in its Christian traditions.”