Plans to build a temporary church hall made from steel shipping containers at the rear of Preston’s historic Minster have been criticised by Historic England.
The wooden clad extension, only designed for between three and five years, has been proposed by the church to be used for children’s Sunday worship, together with community events and meetings.
But Historic England has said it cannot support the development because it feels the structure will “cause harm to the setting of the building”.
The church hall plan is part of a £1.5m “faith revolution” in the city which will see the Grade II* Listed Minster hosting contemporary services - complete with guitars, drums and keyboard - in an attempt to attract a younger congregation. Sister church St George the Martyr will put on more traditional worship.
But Historic England are unhappy with plans for the new building, saying three to five years is too long for a temporary structure. The group also says it should be built further away from the south side of the Minster and surrounded by railings instead of the proposed fencing.
In a report to Preston’s planning committee, architects IWA say: “We understand Historic England’s concerns about the proposal and we respect their conclusion about it causing harm to the setting of the existing church. However we believe that the need for this ancillary temporary accommodation is great and outweighs the impact on this elevation of St John’s Minster.”
The church says it needs a temporary building while it builds up its congregation and decides on a more permanent solution. Neville Hilton, operations manager for the City of Preston Parish, said: “If we proceed, the accommodation in the planning application will be temporary - and will provide break-out rooms for some of the work we plan to do on-site, including for some of our children’s work.But it is only one option for additional accommodation we are exploring currently and may not go ahead.”