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Church urged to consult heritage group members
A HERITAGE group has urged a town centre church to consult with its members after borough planning chiefs approved plans for its controversial refurbishment.
St John’s Parish Church on Church Hill has applied for permission to relocate five 19th century stained glass windows from the ground floor to the first floor, dispose of a 150 year-old font and replace the Victorian pews.
The relocation of the windows was taken out of the plans submitted to Cheshire East Council – plans which have been rubber stamped.
But due to legislation the church office has had to apply for a faculty – a type of permission from the Diocese of Chester which ensures buildings are protected when developed.
The relocation of the windows has been included in the faculty application.
Due to a new submission of the plans, Knutsford people have a new deadline of November 21 to voice their opinion on the proposed work, which is set to cost £800,000.
More than half of that has already been raised by parishioners.
Andrew Malloy, from Knutsford Conservation and Heritage Group, said his fellow members were still keen to work with the church.
“I saw the notice in the Guardian last week and I thought ‘what’s that about?’,” he said.
“We thought there was a notice put up at the church, so we’re not sure what’s happening.
“What is confusing is that it’s two different applications – the church has to go through the faculty process and the windows are still in that.
“The planning application has gone in because it’s a listed building and in a conservation area, but just because they’ve moved the windows out of that application doesn’t mean they won’t come back with another application at another time.
“We are not celebrating at all – we would rather work with the church.
“The end result for us would be the artefacts remain and are put on display.”
Stephen Regan, spokesman for the Church of England Diocese of Chester, said: “The relocation of the windows is being handled by our faculty (legal) process.
“The relocation has been recommended by the Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches as part of a wider scheme to improve the church and open it up to the wider community.
“The diocesan Chancellor will consider the proposed relocation of windows, and all other aspects of the scheme.
“He will also give careful consideration to the comments we’ve received, and any objections, before he makes his decision.
“The decision is likely to be some months away, as the faculty process is necessarily comprehensive.”