Decision Maker: Delegated Executive Decisions
Decision status: For Determination
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: Yes
A decision is to be made on whether the United
Reformed Church, Sedbergh be listed as an Asset of Community
(Director People and Places)
An application had been received from Sedbergh Town Band to list the building owned by the United Reformed Church in Sedbergh as an asset of community value. Until recently, the building had functioned primarily as a church, but also hosted various local groups and events. Religious services at the church had ceased on 6 October 2018.
Section 88 of the Localism Act 2011 set out those uses of land which may result in a property being considered an asset of community value. They were uses that furthered either the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community. It went on to say that such use could not be an “ancillary use”.
The applicant had stated that the building was used by Sedbergh Town Band for practice, concerts and storage. The applicant had further pointed out that the building was also used by a number of other local groups as a meeting and events space. The various events held at the church could be considered to further social wellbeing and social interest.
The nomination had to provide evidence that the asset could realistically continue to be used for this or another qualifying community purpose (or that his could be achieved within the next five years). As the asset had only very recently ceased to be used for religious services, further evidence had been requested from Sedbergh Town Band to assess whether it would be realistic to think that non-ancillary use, furthering the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community, could continue. Due to the very recent change of use of the church occurring so close to the nomination date, it was difficult to establish at this stage whether this would be realistic based upon the evidence provided by Sedbergh Town Band.
Further evidence had been requested to confirm the actual extent of the nomination due to the situation of a private residence (The Manse) within the grounds of the church. The location plan provided by the applicant showed that the private residence had not been included in the nomination. However, its location in relation to the private residence meant that the church could be considered to be “land connected with a residence” according to the relevant legislation. The Assets of Community Value (England) Regulations 2012 set out that, as a general rule, a residence, together with land connected with a residence, could not be listed. However, there was an exception that a residence (and connected land) might be listed if the residence was a building that was only partly used as a residence and that would otherwise be eligible for listing. In the circumstances, this exception appeared to apply in this case and, therefore, in principle, the building would be eligible for listing if the Council was satisfied that the other statutory tests were met.
In summary, due to the cessation of religious activity before the nomination had been submitted and the proof that the various events held at the church furthered social wellbeing and social interest, it could be considered that the asset may be listed as an asset of community value. However, it was considered that there was insufficient proof that Sedbergh Town Band and the other groups that used the asset could realistically continue the effective running of the building in the future. It could also be seen that Sedbergh People’s Hall was within close proximity of the Church (300m), and offered similar facilities that would not only minimise the negative effects on the local community but could also impact upon the ability of the nominated asset to realistically continue operating in the manner described.
RESOLVED – That the United Reformed Church in Sedbergh be entered onto South Lakeland District Council’s list of unsuccessful nominations of Assets of Community Value.
Reasons for Decision
The assessment considered that the proposal did not meet the requirements for listing.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
Listing the building as an asset of community value. However, it is likely that it could be proven on appeal that the listing would be contrary to the requirements of the Legislation.
Report author: Tom Dugdale
Publication date: 07/12/2018
Date of decision: 06/12/2018
Decided at meeting: 06/12/2018 - Delegated Executive Decisions
Effective from: 17/12/2018