The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee today unanimously approved plans to convert Bainbridge chapel into two affordable flats for rent in perpetuity for local people – in a ‘national pilot’ for the Methodist Church.
The community-led housing project brought by the North Yorkshire Dales Methodist Circuit will see the Church retaining ownership of the property.
The circuit will allocate the accommodation to those in affordable housing need in partnership with Richmondshire District Council.
Bainbridge chapel, a handsome two-storey building in the centre of the village, closed for worship in 2017 because there were too few members to keep it going.
Previous circuit policy has been to sell-off redundant chapels.
Circuit administrator Julie Greenslade said: “Circuits are now being advised by the [national] connexional property team to explore all opportunities for chapels before selling them off, including low cost community housing.”
Rural housing enabler at Richmondshire District Council, Amanda Madden, who has worked closely with the Methodist Church on the scheme, said: “This is a national pilot for the Methodist Church in Great Britain.
“The North Yorkshire Dales circuit have sold a chapel a year for each of the past seven years, but now they’ve realised the chapels could be used for community-led housing.
“The scheme in Bainbridge is being delivered and driven by the local community, following a feasibility study in the parish.”
Member Champion for Development Management at the National Park Authority, Jim Munday, said: “The lovely thing here is that the Church will be managing the scheme in the future.
“It shows an enlightened approach to surplus chapel buildings and is a socially responsible thing to do. We’d like to see more such applications come forward in future.”
He added: “The proposal will contribute to the objectives of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Management Plan, including seeking to support the completion of 400 dwellings in a range of tenures and sizes by 2024. The scheme will deliver much needed affordable housing in Bainbridge.”