Kingswood’s iconic Whitfield Tabernacle, one of the most at risk Grade One listed buildings in the UK, has taken a big step towards being saved thanks to a partnership between Crossman Homes and the Whitfield Tabernacle Trust. The Kingswood building dating back to 1741 and widely regarded as the birthplace of the Methodist movement will, under plans being put forward, be renovated and redeveloped as a community space.
The site, previously owned by PG Group, has lain dormant for many years due to its challenging layout, complicated planning issues and unviability concerns. Crossman Homes bought the land adjacent to the Tabernacle from PG Group in May and is planning to convert the existing Masters Church into 19 apartments and erect three new build homes. The company has pledged to assist in the renovation and rebuilding of the neighbouring derelict burnt out shell of the Whitfield Tabernacle working closely with the Trust which was formed in October 2017.
Speaking after a recent meeting convened by Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore, Simon Ellis, Crossman Homes said: “We’re delighted to be part of this exciting development working closely with the Trust, Chris Skidmore MP and South Gloucestershire Council. Our involvement provides the first realistic proposition that this ‘at risk’ Grade One Listed building can be saved from collapse, bringing it back into good use for the community. We’re well placed to tackle this challenging site following our recent successful redevelopment of Wesleyan Chapel in Kingswood.”
Crossman Homes is working closely with South Gloucestershire Council planners to unlock the complicated site constraints with a view to delivering 19 apartments within the Masters Church conversion and three new houses on the site. This includes providing a new public park which Crossman Homes will gift back to the Council for locals to use and enjoy.
Chris Skidmore, MP for Kingswood said: “I was delighted to bring both Crossman Homes and the Whitfield Tabernacle Trust together for the first time, in order to begin a dialogue about how to best progress the Tabernacle’s restoration. Already Crossman Homes is working on a plan for the Masters Church and the wider site, which should help transform this unloved part of Kingswood, but I am extremely keen as the local MP for Kingswood that we get a viable plan for restoring the Grade One listed Tabernacle that will have the support of the Trust and the local community together, so that we can finally end the situation of a worldwide historic site simply rotting away. I hope that this meeting will be the start of a conversation about how we can now move forward together, united behind a common vision of transforming Kingswood for the better, with the Tabernacle a vitally important part of this regeneration process.”
Cllr Toby Savage, Leader, South Gloucestershire Council added: “I’ve been really impressed with Crossman Homes’ work on other sites locally, which bodes well for finally unlocking the potential of the Whitfield Tabernacle site to contribute towards an exciting future for Kingswood’s town centre. As a Council, we look forward to examining the specific planning proposals being submitted for this site.