Council orders rebuilding of Leicester church's stone wall

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Former church building in Sanvey Lane, AylestoneImage source, Google
Image caption,
The city council said removal of the wall showed "a lack of respect" for the building's history

A council has ordered the reconstruction of a stone wall outside a historic Leicester church after it was knocked down without permission.

The wall, at the former Baptist chapel in Sanvey Lane, was removed last year by the current occupants, who use it as a community centre.

The 150-year-old church sits within the Aylestone Village Conservation Area.

Leicester City Council has demanded at least half the wall is rebuilt using the original design and materials.

The conservation area includes 18th and 19th Century cottages, evidence of its medieval history, and retains the original street pattern of narrow winding lanes.

The church's occupants have made two applications to convert it into flats, saying they had faced difficulties running events because of Covid restrictions, although they intended to retain the main church hall for workshops and community events.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
The old stone wall was removed to create parking spaces

In the first application in March, which was rejected, they said they wanted to create three flats but no mention was made of the wall having been removed.

A second unsuccessful application was submitted in August, which included plans for a one-bedroom flat and the reconstruction of the wall.

The council said while the changes did acknowledge the harm done to the historic site, they were not enough to reassure them it would be protected going forward.

It said the materials suggested for the wall were also not those used in the original.

'Just not fair'

Applicant Angela Beasley, who runs The Sanctuary Workshops on the site said it was "really disappointing and frustrating" to have her application declined for a second time.

She said there were parking problems on the street and they had removed the wall to create three parking spaces, which would be a "benefit to the community".

"We had the wall taken down during lockdown," she said.

"There was nothing happening in the church because we were forced to close like everybody else, and I thought I will try and do something positive and create more off-street parking."

She said her builder approached the city council and was told they could create a driveway and make the surface more level, which they believed covered removal of the wall.

But a few weeks later she received another letter to say that work was not allowed.

"By that time the wall had been knocked down. Apparently our request should have gone to conservation, but I didn't know that," she added.

She said her builder was now trying to source the correct stone again as they had disposed of the original material.

"It cost me £10,000 to remove the wall and put in the driveway, and will cost me that much to build it again," she said.

"I don't think we are going to afford to do it. It's just not fair."


A city council spokesperson said: "The letter the applicant is referring to does not give permission for removal of the wall, only for levelling work to take place to the surface.

"It is very important that anyone who is planning on making any changes to their property goes through all planning and building regulation procedures, especially if you live in a conservation area.

"It is the applicant's responsibility to make sure that they comply with all relevant policies and procedures and contact all relevant council departments. Assumptions should never be made."

Ms Beasley said she intended to appeal against the council decision and was seeking legal advice.

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