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Church spire wins reprieve

Redditch Editorial 15th Jan, 2015 Updated: 18th Oct, 2016

AN ICONIC piece of Redditch’s history will remain part of the skyline after the Standard revealed it was under threat.

We exclusively reported in November how Headless Cross Methodist Church would face the bulldozers and be transformed into nine terraced houses.

The locally listed church, which opened in 1897 on Evesham Road, was also set to lose its unique tower and spire as part of the plans.

But following calls from residents and the Victorian Society, the developer had a change of heart and both the tower and spire will be retained and included as part of the new development.

Applicant Phil Thomas told a planning committee meeting on Wednesday (January 14) he had worked with officers to come up with a scheme to keep as many people as happy as possible.

“I have taken on board the comments from the local press and local people and I have worked with officers to retain the much loved tower and provide needed housing.”

He added he would also try to minimise disruption for nearby residents.

The church closed in 2009 after the building was discovered to have dry rot and the cost of repair was too great. Since then it has fallen into a partly derelict state.

Coun Carol Gandy, who represents Headless Cross on Redditch Borough Council, said although she did not want to see the church go, she recognised it was impossible to retain it in its entirety. She said she supported the application because it kept the landmark spire in the town.

“It is what Headless Cross is all about.”

Although councillors backed the plans, Coun Joe Baker said he was concerned about who would be responsible for maintaining the tower.

“There does not seem to be any form of proposal as to who will maintain the tower. Who is going to be left footing the bill?.”

Speaking after the meeting, Tim Bridges, Victorian Society conservation advisor, also questioned who would be responsible for the maintenance of the tower.

“While we welcome the retention of Headless Cross Church’s distinctive tower, it is disappointing the council has approved the scheme despite objections from its conservation officer.”

Officers confirmed the issue would be among other details which would be looked at by the head of planning and regeneration.

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