A vacant Liverpool church could be transformed into a community hub under newly submitted plans.
An application has been put forward to Liverpool City Council to convert St Martyrs Church on Lawrence Road.
The site had previously been threatened with demolition in 2014 when a previous planning application looked to replace the building with a new student accommodation block.
Following objections by the Victorian Society and the local Civic Society, an application was made by SAVE to ‘spot’ list the church, and in 2016 Historic England designated it a Grade II-listed structure.
Now the charitable organisation Champions Community Academy is behind proposals to change the use of the building to a gymnasium, boxing club and community centre and carry out refurbishment works.
According to a design proposal by Areeba Architecture for the scheme, the conversion would see the basement used as a gymnasium and the ground floor used for “multi-functional uses”.
The document, submitted as part of the planning application, says: “These would include use for events, community uses, wedding/party hire and sporting uses such as boxing promotions etc.”
It is intended that the church organ, the organ gallery, the stage and the pulpit within the building, which has been vacant since 2004, would be retained as part of the internal character and used for events such as weddings.
Retention of the pews, however, would “threaten the viability of the scheme” according to the planning application.
The document adds: “There is no doubt that St Martyrs is an important heritage asset, an attractive building in its own right, occupying a prominent position on the main road, and forming part of an important group of ecclesiastical buildings which are part of the history of this area of Liverpool. However, it has been vacant for more than 13 years and is unlikely to be returned to its former religious use.
“In the interim is been subject to vandalism and arson and in this situation is likely to deteriorate further unless some alternative practical use is found.
“In summary it is considered that the works proposed to convert the building will have a little impact on the exterior of the building and the general public are unlikely to detect any difference in its appearance.
“The building, repaired and maintained, will continue to be a significant presence in the neighbourhood. Internally, considerable care has been taken to minimise the extent of alterations and to ensure the original features of the church are, as far as practically possible, incorporated into the new development.”