Save St Michael’s, urges property specialist

October 31, 2011

A Bristol-based heritage property specialist is calling for action to ensure the future of redundant churches, schools and theatre buildings in the South West – or the region could lose some of its most interesting buildings.

James Edwards, a town planner with Colliers International said: “There is a real risk that without a concerted effort by investors and suitable property owners these buildings will be lost forever.  St Michaels Church in Bristol city centre is one such example – it is a Grade II listed building and on the Buildings at Risk Register. 
“The building occupies one of the most prominent positions in Bristol, on St Michaels Hill,  yet has been empty and in need of repair for several years.  A sensitive scheme that acknowledges and protects the significance of the building is needed to ensure that the building can retain a future role in central Bristol.”
James helped produce the largest ever research into industrial heritage at risk, released by English Heritage earlier this month, but says there are many other non-industrial historic properties built for specific purposes and facing uncertain futures that should also be remembered.
He added: “We should maintain the momentum generated by this report, seeking to stimulate further interest in other specialist buildings that struggle to find a purpose in the present day and subsequently slip onto English Heritage’s Heritage at Risk Register by virtue of redundancy or neglect”. 
James, who undertook a thesis on the future of church buildings for a university degree in historic building conservation, says it is important would-be owners engage with local authorities and English Heritage on such properties, to create a workable scheme.
“Churches and other historic properties which were purpose built, such as theatres or school buildings, are without a doubt some of the most difficult buildings to secure a future role in society. For example many church congregations change and evolve over time requiring different worship space, often rendering many church buildings surplus to requirements.  
“They often require a more considered approach, and like industrial properties have in the past scared off would be property owners given the additional considerations required to secure their futures.
“There are grants and other forms of assistance available through such bodies as English Heritage which can assist, work with and support those seeking to bring life back into these properties and which can open up a host of opportunities for prospective owners and occupiers, whether private individuals, charities or local communities, to get involved in rescuing these properties for future generations.”

Comments are closed.


Reach tens of thousands of senior business people across Bristol for just £120 a month. Email for more information.