Campaigners fight church demolition

Mike Higginbottom, Hendrika Stephens, Rita Stephens, Nancy and Alex West at St Hildas Church in Wincobank
Mike Higginbottom, Hendrika Stephens, Rita Stephens, Nancy and Alex West at St Hildas Church in Wincobank
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CAMPAIGNERS hoping to save a disused Sheffield church from dereliction have received a blow after officials revealed an offer from a developer has now been accepted.

The Church Commissioners, who dispose of surplus Church of England land, have agreed to sell St Hilda’s Church at Wincobank, which has been closed since 2007.

Last-ditch plea: Hendrika Stephens, Mike Higginbottom and Rita Stephens outside St Hilda's Church.                               Picture: Dean Atkins

Last-ditch plea: Hendrika Stephens, Mike Higginbottom and Rita Stephens outside St Hilda's Church. Picture: Dean Atkins

Development plans involve demolition and building flats.

Residents have collected 59 signatures on an online petition and 37 on a paper petition.

Ross Brazier, case officer for the Church Commissioners, has written to Hendrika Stephens, of Firth Park, who is among the campaigners fighting to save the building.

He said: “A draft scheme empowering the Diocese of Sheffield to demolish the building and sell or lease the site and annexed land was issued by the Commissioners and notification of these proposals were published in August.

“St Hilda’s is an unlisted church in poor condition caused by severe damp penetration and regular attacks of vandalism. The interior of the church has been largely destroyed and burnt out including the organ and its case.”

Mr Brazier said English Heritage did not consider the building ‘worthy of listing’.

He added: “The Commissioners are satisfied procedures have been followed and see no reason why the scheme should not be implemented - as an offer on the property has been accepted.

“I understand this may be disappointing to you but I am sorry to say your interest in this building has come at the very end of this process, after public consultation, and after an offer has been accepted by the diocese.”

Campaigners who wanted the building preserved and reopened for community use called on the Church Commission to reconsider.

She said: “The public consultation seems to have amounted to an A4 sheet on the door of the building which stands metres away from the pavement and any view from the road.

“There has never been a for sale sign on the building to my knowledge and you would think even morally the church would realise a church building is one that is of public, community and historical significance.”