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Anger at new plans for Garrison church

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 4, 2008

      Anger at new plans for Garrison church
      04 April 2008 | 07:02


      CAMPAIGNERS hoping to save an historic Essex building have reacted
      angrily to plans to transform it into a Russian Orthodox Church.

      Colchester's old Garrison Church has stood empty and unused for the
      past year and has been for sale since January.

      Bids for the Grade II*-listed building on Military Road have to be in
      by the end of today and many local people support a scheme to turn it
      into a community venue capable of holding concerts, exhibitions and
      arts and drama events.

      Campaign group, Save The Garrison Church, yesterday announced they
      would be putting in a bid for the church, which was built in the 1850s.

      Their proposals were backed this year by presenter of the Restoration
      television series, Griff Rhys Jones who spoke passionately about
      saving the venue when he visited Colchester.

      It has now emerged the Orthodox Church in Felixstowe has also put a
      bid in and hope to transform the interior to accommodate its style of worship.

      They have the backing of English Heritage and would also open it up
      for community use and include it on the tourist map of the town to
      encourage more people to visit.

      A planning application has already been put into Colchester Borough
      Council for internal alterations.

      The Rev Andrew Philips, from the church, said he hoped the proposed
      changes would "harmonise" with the present interior and said feedback
      he had been told the proposal was "ideal".

      But Save The Garrison Church group have attacked the plans, saying
      they would not fit in with the requirements of the Garrison master
      plan of 2001, which states the building must be used for community,
      education or leisure use.

      David Morgans, group secretary, said the plans for a Russian Orthodox
      Church were not suitable.

      He said: "We are strongly against an individual faith trying to take
      it for their own use and we feel it is not part of the local
      community - they may have a need for it, but who is to say if they
      will want to stay in the future.

      "We would not be happy, as a group, and we see a case for using the
      existing structure for large concerts for hundreds of people which
      would not be possible if the inside of the building was sectioned off."

      But Mr Phillips said: "We would be letting the hall out for community
      use and there are a couple of groups who have already expressed an interest.

      "The church would also be put on the local tourist map, so it would
      be opened up once or twice a week for visits, because I think it is
      very much under-appreciated at the moment.

      "I have no idea about whether our bid will be successful and I don't
      know how many groups have put in a tender."

      He said they needed a more central location for the church instead of
      Felixstowe, where it is currently based.

      "There is no Russian Orthodox church anywhere in Essex - we have been
      in Felixstowe for 11 years, but we have never been able to obtain
      permanent premises.

      "We are a regional church and Colchester would be the ideal location
      because we have been looking between Lowestoft and Romford as we have
      a huge catchment area."

      Daniel Wye, of Fenn Wright, which is selling the church for owners
      Taylor Wimpey, said: "There has been a lot of interest and there have
      been bids.

      "It is not the client's wish to accept any offer where it won't be
      operating in the context of the building's listing and they want to
      ensure the building is looked after."
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