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Church hall demolition plan left ‘in ruins’

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Church hall demolition plan left ‘in ruins’ thumbnailThe Magill Hall which has been listed despite First Broughshane Presbyterian Church wanting to demolish it to make way for a modern new building to meet its growing congregation. North Antrim MLA and church member, Paul Frew said six years of planning had

PLANS to demolish a well known church hall in Broughshane and replace it with a modern new building have been thwarted, after it was 'listed' by the Department of Communities' Historic Environment Division.
The move to protect the Magill Hall, which is owned by First Broughshane Presbyterian Church, has been criticised by church-goers who say it has outlived its usefulness.
North Antrim DUP MLA and church member, Paul Frew, a fomer a Sunday school teacher, described the move as a "dirty action."
Mr Frew said: "This is an incredibly draconian decision by an organisation that has acted and treated the Church with disdain from the start of this process.
“It was becoming increasingly obvious every time we met with the Historic Environment Division that they were determined to list this building, no matter what argument was put up by the Church Congregation.
“In fact every time we met they seemed to want to move the goal posts further placing further restrictions and burdens upon the Church.
“This is borne out by the fact they have now even listed the wall on the Main Street.
“This is a dirty action by the Division, which had been asked by Planning Service to produce a list of items to be considered in the Planning Process only a matter of weeks previously.
“But instead this organisation has waited until the sympathetic Minister was out of post due to the election, before slapping this listing on the building.
“The six years work that the Church has put into planning future provision for the congregation and wider community, making it fit for purpose in this age, are now left in ruins!
“This has also dealt a blow to Broughshane Improvement Committee's aims and objectives.
“We have witnessed many walls on our Main Street coming down in the last number of years; the Library, at the roundabout and Masonic Hall making Broughshane more open and welcoming.
*Read the full story in this week's Ballymena Guardian.

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