Prickwillow Baptist Church conversion plans withdrawn


12:20 p.m. July 3, 2022

Proposals put forward to convert a former Baptist chapel into a house “erases any element of architectural interest within”.

And its “adherence to unimaginative domestic conventions entirely squanders the opportunity the building’s spatial quality affords.

“Even if iconoclasm cannot be contained internally, at least the most egregious external impacts should be altered.”

The review was made by East Cambridgeshire District Council conservation officer Chris Patrick.

He was commenting on a planning application to convert the former non-conformist 19th century chapel in Main Street, Prickwillow.

The request was withdrawn days after the criticism emerged on the council’s planning portal.

Mr Patrick said it ‘should be apparent that the current scheme is not a ‘well-considered proposal’.

He said: ‘For example, it is perverse to say the least to destroy two authentic original windows in the south elevation of the lean-to while recreating facsimiles in the modern post-war service extension (which does not need excessive lighting).

“These windows should be retained and a pair of patio doors in between should be more than sufficient to provide a connection to the garden.”

The chapel was founded in 1816 and rebuilt in 1875 and has a small 20th century addition to the rear.

Mr. Patrick says that the conversion of closed places of worship raises particular sensitivities and that there are well-recognized directions.

The conservation officer also claims that the size, proportion and detailing of window and door design, as well as the materials, have a major impact on the overall appearance.

“The interior is often the most sensitive to change, but it’s under the greatest pressure to adapt to it,” says Patrick.

“Interior changes should maintain, where possible, the emphasis on the end of the grandstand,” he says.

These include “structural elements such as galleries and stairs as well as decorative details such as cornices and ceiling roses.

“There will be instances where the proposals will not be consistent with certain aspects of the building’s significance.

“In these cases, you have to justify particular types of change.

“A proposal should outline the reasons for carrying out new work, the options that were considered and how the preferred solution was reached.

“It will provide a rationale for the work and by setting it out with the importance of the building it will present a ‘well-considered proposal’.”


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