Friday, 20 July 2018

Former chapel could be new family home

AN historic former chapel could be redeveloped into a two-bedroom home

AN historic former chapel could be redeveloped into a two-bedroom home.

Lashbrook Chapel, off Mill Road in Lower Shiplake, has not held a service since 2002.

Now a private property, Richard Hester, from Fawley, has submitted an application to South Oxfordshire District Council to give it a new lease of life.

The building, which is described as a “non-designated heritage asset”, has seen several changes of use over its lifetime.

It is believed to have initially been used as a store for the nearby paper mill. Following closure of the mill in 1907, the building lay dormant until 1914 when it became a “parish room”. It was used as a scout hut, then a classroom for Bible lessons.

Daily services were held inside the building, which later became known as Lashbrook Chapel. The last service held in the building was on October 27, 2002.

A design and access statement compiled by architect Simon Swietochowski said: “The current building is dilapidated and requires complete renovation. It requires extending to provide a basic amount of space to function as a dwelling.

“These extensions have been sensitively added in order to not detract from the striking but simple form of the building. Of equal importance is visual impact to the neighbouring properties which has been kept to a minimum.

“By sensitively transforming Lashbrook Chapel into a dwelling of exceptional build quality, the legacy of the building will be secured for generations to come.

“Lashbrook Chapel will be carefully taken down, and rebuilt using as many of the original materials and building features as possible.

“The revitalised chapel will share the significant proportions of the original building to ensure that its smallness, character and charm are maintained.

“The reinstated building fabric will be a combination of original and carefully selected new or reclaimed materials. The original roof tiles will be reused, and reclaimed tiles to match will be used where the roof is extended.”

The current timber cladding is now “rotten and defective”, according to the application, and the building completely un-insulated.

A meeting was held with local residents during the design stage to discuss the proposals. Concerns were raised regarding a balcony previously proposed to the east elevation which has now been omitted.

The application added: “The residents were pleased that the dilapidated chapel will be renovated without loss of the scale and charm of the existing chapel.”

Two parking spaces are also proposed at the front of the building as part of the project. Steps have been take to reduce the risk to the building and its future occupants from a nearby large horse chestnut tree.

The plans explained: “These include forming the superstructure of the building from a steel frame, strong enough to withstand the load of falling branches. Rafters within the frame will also be oversized.

“In addition, the bedrooms have been located on the ground floor rather than upstairs, to maximise the distance between the branches and sleeping occupants inside. Annual health checks will be commissioned to record the tree’s health and preempt any risk of falling branches.”

The district council will make a final decision by December 2.

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