A WINCHESTER church which has stood for almost six decades will be demolished and partly make way for housing, if plans are given the go-ahead.

The Diocese of Winchester is proposing to close and knock down St Luke’s church, in Stanmore, pictured, and build a new place of worship on the same site.

It is believed to be the first such scheme in recent years in Winchester.

A public notice has detailed that the church, which was built in 1960-61, has been proposed for replacement due to the building’s deteriorating condition and the substantial garden which is “too large to be easily managed”.

For some years Winchester City Council has earmarked the garden for a possible site for housing. The parish and the diocese have been working with the authority and housing provider Footstep Living who propose to re-develop the site.

If approved, a new place of worship with hall and community facilities alongside a housing development with affordable homes could be constructed. It is unclear whether the Church or the city council will pay for the new place of worship.

The Chronicle asked the city council for background but in a short statement they said: Winchester City Council has not received a planning application in regards to the demolition of St Luke’s church in Stanmore.”

Currently members of the public and St Luke’s congregation are only being asked to comment on the proposed closure and demolition of the existing church building.

The notice details that a suitable building will be available for use in place of the old church pending the provision of the new place of worship.

Speaking about the church’s future, ward councillors Jamie Scott and Derek Green said: “We agree with St Luke church demolition and welcome a new church on this site with good community facilities.

“St Luke church has been on this site since 1961 and before that on the corner of Cromwell Road/The Valley which is the current site of the Sportsman’s Club.

“Many Stanmore residents have a long connection to St Luke church whether being married there or baptised there or had a loved one’s funeral there.

“Many families would have used the Stanmore Playgroup which operated there for many years and young children would have gone to the youth groups/holiday clubs and attend Sunday School.

“Stanmore folks will have many happy memories of time spent at St Luke church.

“Subject to planning permission we understand that the new church would need added housing units to ensure the scheme is viable and we both hope there is a local lettings policy connected to the proposed housing units on this site which means they are built for people with connection to the local community.

“This development will again have an impact to local residents living close by so we both hope the development happens in a sensitive manner.”

The demolition and build of a new place of worship has been submitted to Winchester City Council for pre-application advice. Concept designs were considered by the council’s Winchester Design Panel in December 2020.

The Diocese of Winchester was contacted for a comment but it did not respond.

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