Student homes plans on hold for church

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Plans to convert church on Lawrence Road postponed.

Plans to convert church on Lawrence Road postponed. Pic © Google Street View

Controversial plans to convert a church into student accommodation have been postponed after concerns about destroying the heritage of the building were raised.

The application to demolish the former Martyrs church and Methodist Church in Lawrence Road, Wavertree was due to be decided last week by Liverpool City Council but the decision has been put on hold and will be decided at a later date.

Tom Farrell, communications officer for Liverpool City Council, told JMU Journalism: “The conversion was deferred to allow further talks to take place with the applicant in the light of representations made by the Victorian Society and Merseyside Civic Society.

“They objected to the proposal on the grounds that ‘the development would entail the total loss of a locally important heritage asset and harm the appearance of a well preserved and characterful streetscape’.”

Mr Farrell highlighted that because the application is still under consideration, it would be inappropriate for the council to express its views about the conversion.

The request to convert the historic church into a four-storey block of student flats has raised concern with professionals and several residents who live in the area.

Not only were there worries about the heritage of the building, but other issues raised included the number of students already living in the area and car parking congestion.

The church, founded in 1903 and which closed in 2004, is not the only historic building in Liverpool to be converted into accommodation for students. The former Bridewell Prison in the city centre was marketed to students in August this year as ‘something a bit different’ and a former five star British Transport Hotel is now one of the biggest student premises at North Western Halls.

James Hughes, Victorian Society Senior Conservation Advisor, told JMU Journalism: “The 1903 church is an attractive Italianate building constructed of high quality red brick, with stone dressings and elegant arched stained glass windows. Its prominent domed tower is a landmark in even distant views from all directions.

“The demolition would erode the character of what is otherwise a well-preserved Victorian urban environment.”

About Hannah Hodgson, JMU Journalism