Opposition to church revamp plans lodged

Revd Jacqueline Bullen at her institution as vicar of Longthorpe at St Botoph's Church pictured with Bishop Donald EMN-170204-225620009
Revd Jacqueline Bullen at her institution as vicar of Longthorpe at St Botoph's Church pictured with Bishop Donald EMN-170204-225620009

An appeal has been launched to try and stop controversial works at a Peterborough church.

The works are set to take place at St Botolph’s in Longthorpe, and The Peterborough Telegraph revealed last week that the £286,000 revamp had been given the green light by The Church of England’s Consistory Court. The plans include changing Victorian pews for individual chairs, a new self standing alter and the lowering of part of the floor.

This week new vicar Reverend Jackie Bullen took up post. She said: “When we visited St Botolph’s, my husband Neil and I were struck in particular by the commitment to the future of ministry here which drives the planned refurbishment of the church building. I think this is evidence of God at work here among us, which is the most thrilling thing.”

However, a number of protests against the works have been voiced, led by The Victorian Society. A spokesman said: “The Victorian Society supports many church reorderings, however this extensive reordering goes far beyond what we believe to be necessary to achieve the goals planned by the church, causing substantial harm to both the architectural and historic significance of the building. Our views are shared by both Historic England (who reiterated their strong objections in 2015) and the 20th Century Society, who both feel the extent of the proposed reordering to be unjustifiable.”

Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said: “The plans are nothing short of outrageous and involve the gutting of the interior of this beautiful medieval church. And for what reason? I’m delighted that the Victorian Society is so concerned about the proposals to appeal to the highest ecclesiastical court to have them thrown out.”

Brian Green, Church Warden of St Botolph, said the works would make the church more accessible. He said: “The whole idea was to make it assessable for the wheelchair user, for safety, and to make the space more friendly and useful as well.”

The Archdeacon of Oakham the Ven Gordon Steele added: “I am happy to support St Botolph’s Parish in their desire to adapt the limited internal space within their church building to enable them to fufill their calling to continue to make disciples and grow the church.”