Preservation notice on church hall refused

A request to serve a temporary '˜Building Preservation Notice' on a church hall under consideration for formal '˜listing' has been turned down by Council at committee level.

First Broughshane Presbyterian Church Hall

The request from the Department for Communities to Mid & East Antrim Council’s Planning Department in relation to the Magill Hall at Broughshane First Presbyterian Church had been deferred from the Planning Committee’s July meeting until on August 4 to give representatives from Historic Environment Division and the church the opportunity to address members.

More than 20 members of the congregation packed into the public gallery to hear the representations for and against the need for the temporary preservation notice to be served on the hall on which the Department had given the local authority ‘Advance Notice of Listing’.

A representative of Historic Environment Division said the process for assessing the hall for listing had been initiated by ‘a listing query’ in December 2015.

He said that following an initial evaluation in-house, an independent survey and report on perceived special architectural and historic interest had been commissioned on the hall, which dates to 1927, and that the resulting assessment had been evaluated by a specialist panel which considered it worthy of listing at Grade B 2. He said listing was not a means to preventing alterations to a building but “to identify those features which it is important to preserve”.

Speaking on behalf of the congregation, Paul Frew MLA, said listing would be “a very harmful step” and that the church had plans for a new hall.

“By passing this today, it creates the perception that Council supports the listing of a building that I believe and the church believes is not list worthy,” he said.

A member of the congregation said listing would “saddle” the congregation with a building which no long meets its needs.

The committee went to support a proposal by Cr S Nicholl against serving of a building preservation notice.