Church conversion approved to ensure its preservation

St. Mary's Church in Felton.
St. Mary's Church in Felton.

A scheme to convert a north Northumberland church into a home was approved for fears that the building could otherwise fall into disrepair.

Members gave listed building consent to the plans for St Mary’s Church in Felton, despite the opposition of the county council’s conservation officer.

But the chairman of Felton Parish Council, Tony Hood, said that they had supported conversion to another use ever since the church was deconsecrated more than 10 years ago.

“Aspects that the conservation officer wants to retain could be lost forever if the planning permission is refused,” he added. “There’s every possibility it will fall into disrepair.”

Coun Heather Cairns supported the motion, by Coun Trevor Thorne, and said that while she rarely ignored the advice of the conservation officer, she thought of other listed buildings which were left to rack and ruin until development took place such as Thrum Mill, in Rothbury, and the Corn Exchange in Alnwick, where planning permission has been granted for a Wetherspoon’s pub.

Coun Anthony Murray said: “I hope I’m not treated as a philistine, but we are not really looking now at an active Catholic church. We are looking at something that people are going to live in for hopefully the rest of this century and into the next century.”