An historic building - originally earmarked for use as a hotel - is now being converted into a church after being ‘de-listed,’ despite some public opposition.
Appleyard House in Brighton Road, Horsham, was designed as a hotel for a proposed new Horsham railway station on a line from London to Brighton in the 1830s which ended up never being built.
Now Horsham’s Denne Road Gospel Hall is to use the building as a church, moving from its current site in Denne Road where it has been for 150 years.
But fears have been raised over the future preservation of Appleyard House - previously used as offices - after it was taken off Historic England’s statutory list of buildings of architectural or historic importance.
One resident who lives nearby - concerned about Horsham’s loss of character - said: “Should the church decide at any point that they no longer want to stay there, this building does not now have any protection against future redevelopment or even demolition.”
But church secretary of Denne Road Gospel Hall Ian Topalian said Horsham District Council had approved the change of use of the building to a place of worship last July. De-listing was considered ‘only as a last resort’, he said, after heritage consultants said the building had little remaining of any historical merit.
He said that consultations took place with the local planning authority, the West Sussex Historic Environment Record and amenity societies. “They recommended that the property should be de-listed on the grounds that ‘the accumulative effect of the changes to the building has resulted in the loss of special architectural interest and historic character overall’ and this recommendation was approved by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.”
He added that more than £50,000 was spent last summer in doing up the outside of the building and rescuing its decaying window frames. “There is no intention to alter the beautiful and imposing frontage,” he said.
The church plans to move into the building later this year. “The church wish to be good neighbours and to use the building for the good of the community,” said Mr Topalian. “We hope that local people will enjoy coming into the church building when it is finished. The church will be within walking distance for many more than at present. In due course, we hope to introduce more church-based community activities, eg a parent and toddlers group, senior citizens teas, etc.”