The Church Commissioners published in January 2010 a Pastoral Scheme for the disposal of St John’s church and part of the churchyard for residential use. The full document can be seen at the Library.
Representations had to be made by 25th February 2010.
The church has been closed since May 2003 and was formally declared closed for public worship on 10th June 2006. Since 2007 the building has been open for offers from those wishing to turn it to another use. This has resulted in a single offer and a proposal to convert the building to residential use.
This proposal is outlined in clause 1 of the Pastoral Scheme. Clause 2 establishes the need to maintain public access into and around the churchyard for the purposes of burials, graveyard maintenance, and family visits.
A plan of the area is attached to the scheme and shows that a part of the graveyard will be included in the domestic area. The affected part is to the right of the present entrance (when looking at the church from Church Street). This will extend in an irregular manner to the boundary wall adjacent to no.3 Church Street. Part of the purpose of this land is to provide an additional entrance, creating a drive through, and sufficient parking for the residents of the new accommodation as well as some visitor parking for those attending the graveyard. Some gravestones and monuments will require removal or re-positioning but no graves will be moved.
We are now advised that the parking area in the graveyard will have places for 32 vehicles. Six of these are for visitors to the graveyard leaving 26 for residents of the church! That suggests 13 apartments, rather more than the three or four we might have hoped for.
Bollington Civic Society has responded with the following comments …
We are supportive of your proposed change of use of St John’s Church to domestic use. However, we do have an important concern. Your car park layout shows 32 spaces of which six are for visitors. That implies 26 for residents. Under present planning guidelines of two or less parking spaces per dwelling unit that implies 13 or more units in the church, that is flats or apartments.
We are not supportive of any proposal to create that many units in this building. We would be more likely to support a proposal to convert to, say, five town houses, one per bay of the building. There are a number of reasons for this view …
- There is a considerable excess of small units in Bollington and a shortage of larger family homes.
- We want to keep the additional traffic load on Church Street to a minimum. There is already permission for 66 further units that would use the street, with a probability of four more being permitted shortly and others in future. Church Street is already showing considerable signs of stress due to excessive traffic, particularly trucks servicing the Tullis Russell paper mill, even before that additional load.
- Flats tend to be occupied by single persons who often, unfortunately, care little about their homes or immediate environment. Families would be much more suitable in this respect.
We would like to see a restriction to prevent fences, walls, hedges or any other divide or obstruction being erected along any of the boundaries between the domestic property and the churchyard.
We would like to see a restriction to prevent householders establishing or constructing stores, sheds, bicycle storage, play equipment, etc. outside the main building. We acknowledge the need for a rubbish bin pen and the householders should be limited to this.
We also think that it would be better to have the flow of traffic clockwise through the parking area rather than anticlockwise as shown on your drawing.
We would be interested to know what arrangements are to be made for the maintenance of the graveyard. We would like the developer to be required to set up an arrangement so that the residents are responsible for subscribing to a community fund dedicated to the regular necessary maintenance of the land around the church in perpetuity. We will, in any case, press Cheshire East Council to establish a 106 agreement to provide for works designed to improve the churchyard, pollard many of the overgrown trees around the church, and clear the trees and shrubs that have grown in inappropriate places followed by re-alignment of monuments disfigured by such growth. If these works could be required by your sale contract so much the better.
The residents’ fund should also be responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the outside of the building and of the tower, inside and out.
We would also like a water tap somewhere on the south east side for the use of those maintaining their memorials in the Columbarium.