Church council agrees deal to rescue church spire

The church council of St John the Divine has agreed a deal which has rescued of the spire of St John the Divine church in Fairfield.

The church council of St John the Divine has agreed a deal which has rescued of the spire of St John the Divine church in Fairfield.

They agreed to sell the building to a local firm at a much reduced cost in return for an agreement that the spire will remain intact. The developers were planning to cap the spire to make it safe but this deal preserves the building intact.

The church council had been awarded a court judgement giving them permission to demolish the spire on health and safety grounds. The spire was in such a dangerous state as to be uninsurable and there was a real threat of masonry falling, causing a serious or fatal injury. The professional advice was that it could cost up to £500,000 to repair and maintain the spire.

While the church council did not have the finance to maintain the spire and the church congregation no longer worships at that building, they are pleased to have reached the agreement. It has come at a cost to the church as the proceeds from the sale would have been used to fund the other work of the church.

The church council worked with the Archdeacon and officers from the Diocese of Liverpool to try to save the spire. This was a difficult task as the church was refused listing from the DCMS and approaches to a variety of local and regional funding agencies were met with sympathy rather than money. This led to the council sacrificing money that they could have used to further other work.

The Venerable Ricky Panter, Archdeacon of Liverpool commented “while it is tremendous to have been able to have preserved the spire at St John’s this case shows the dilemma facing many of our churches. Very often they are caught between the heritage lobby calling for buildings to be preserved and the financial reality that there is no money to pay for the work to be done. On this occasion the church council were able to agree a rescue package however this is not always the case and sometimes difficult decisions have to be made.

“the Diocese of Liverpool is very conscious of the many fine church buildings that exist in the Diocese and works hard to help local vicars and congregations preserve these buildings.”

Councillor Louise Baldock, who represents Fairfield said "We all welcome this wonderful news. The Church, both in Fairfield and within the diocese has worked really hard to achieve this fantastic outcome. It would have been easy for them to demolish the church and sell the land, once they found out that the spire was unsafe and beyond their means to repair. We particularly owe a debt of thanks to Reverend Andrew Porter and his congregation at St John the Divine for finding the money to save the church and spire for posterity by reducing the sale price accordingly. It is a great day for Fairfield's heritage and a great way to end the 08 Culture year in our neighbourhood".