In the last 18 months, we have sold or let several places of worship and still have a waiting list of buyers looking for similar properties. Business Space surveyor Ross Whiting explains why these buildings are so popular
Places of worship have a use class of D1 which can be hard to obtain but is needed by a variety of businesses, not just by religious groups. Nurseries, clinics, day centres and schools are just some of the businesses that need buildings with this use class and are looking for buildings which have been used as places of worship.
The Christian Research Group estimates that 10% of English churches that were open in 2008 will be redundant by 2020, leaving many old religious buildings vacant. Each denomination has different processes for deciding whether a building is no longer needed. These can take many months but, once decided, the unused buildings need to be disposed of.
People often don’t realise the value that churches can have. All our recent sales and lettings have achieved offers in excess of our client’s expectations. It’s a niche market, but there is very high demand and we have a list of prospective buyers looking for similar properties.
Aspley Methodist Church, pictured, exchanged recently at considerably more than the asking price and received 17 offers after just an eight-week marketing period.
Why they are so popular?
Former religious buildings are often repurposed so that they can carry on being used by the local community. For example, the former Bottesford Baptist Church is being refurbished and turned into a GP surgery.
Many of the buildings are also suitable for a change of use, such as the High Pavement Chapel in Nottingham. This Grade II listed building was originally built as a Unitarian Church before being converted into a Lace Museum in 1982. It is now the popular Pitcher and Piano bar, which shows how one building can have a wide range of uses.
Keeping historic places in use is a good way of making sure they stay in good repair to be enjoyed by future generations.
Those who are looking for a unique residential property are also attracted to old places of worship. They often have the potential to be converted into attractive houses or flats.