A campaign to save the dilapidated Chipping Norton Baptist Church has gathered pace after a planning application was submitted which could see part of the building converted into eight flats.
The Grade II-listed church – established in 1733 and located on New Street – has been the subject of a planning stalemate in recent years with the church involved in a legal wrangle with a previous developer which gained permission to convert it into four flats but did not undertake any building work.
Deacon Joe Rice, who has responsibility for the building project, said he is ‘ecstatic’ the project is now making progress after the church underwent a long battle to regain ownership of the building from previous developers.
“We would just love to get back in the building from our point of view,” he said.
“The existing church is far too big for our needs but now from our point of view it’s full steam ahead.”
If approved four of the flats would be located on the ground floor, in the oldest part of the building, with four duplex flats on the first and second floors in the newer parts of the church.
The church space would be fully renovated at the cost of the developer, with its capacity being reduced from the existing 500 to 100.
Mr Rice said the new capacity is much more realistic for the size of the current 35- strong congregation, which has not been able to meet at the church for the past five years due to its dilapidated state.
Approval for the changes was secured from English Heritage two weeks ago.
The planning application has been made by Citadel Spring Ltd and the site’s owner, the Baptist Union Corporation Ltd. A decision is due in July.