St Leonard’s Church could be shut down for good

St Leonard's Church. File photo
St Leonard's Church. File photo

A church in St Leonards could be shut down as part of a review.

A report by the Diocese of Chichester recommends that St Leonard’s Church, in Marina, be declared redundant because the building is unsafe.

The review into the Hastings deanery, which examines the opportunities and challenges facing the Church of England in the town, has been written by Bishop Peter Wheatley, a former bishop of Edmonton.

The report said: “The church has been declared unsafe for public worship.

“The recommendation of this review is that St Leonard’s Church, Marina is declared redundant.

“This is on the grounds of the large costs not simply of renovation but also of ongoing maintenance, detrimental to the mission of the parish.

“The immediate locality of St Leonard’s Church in the east of the parish is served also by both St John’s, Upper St Leonards and Christ Church, St Leonards, whereas the largest housing developments in the borough will take place in the west of the parish which already lacks visible Church of England presence.

“The PCC (Parochial Church Council) is already alert to this challenge. The congregation of St Leonard’s has already moved to St Ethelburga’s within the benefice where both former congregations are to be congratulated on coming together amicably and focusing on being outward-looking.”

The review recommends that Rev David Hill be appointed as priest-in-charge of the parish for a time-limited period of three years.

Bishop Wheatley’s review also said St John’s Church needs to be continually upgraded ‘making the whole nave more flexible for church and community use’.

The report said: “A further recommendation is that, once clergy costs for both parishes are covered, the parish contribution at St Leonard’s & St Ethelburga’s is reduced to enable more money to be spent on improving the church building.

“It will be helpful to have an experienced priest assisting the churchwardens and PCC in implementing any redundancy procedures including the removal and relocation of artefacts from St Leonard’s Church.”

Bishop Wheatley’s report will be debated by the town’s churches.

The retired bishop will be visiting all the clergy and Parochial Church Councils in Hastings and St Leonards over the next few months.

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