Charity Housing People, Building Communities, has been gifted the disused St Bernard’s Catholic Church in Kingsley Road, Toxteth, for conversion into homes for shared ownership.
HPBC has submitted a planning application to Liverpool City Council to convert the church into 11 residential units after the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool donated the building and surrounding ground. The proposed properties are a combination of three and four-storey homes with two, three or four bedrooms. The smallest will be 260 sq ft and the largest 477 sq ft.
The Most Rev Malcolm McMahon, Archbishop of Liverpool, said: “The building has been falling into disrepair and we can think of nothing better than to see it permanently preserved and brought back into vibrant use as part of a community-led, low cost housing development.”
St Bernard’s Church was designed by Pugin & Pugin and built in 1901. The architect for the conversion is Wirral-based Ainsley Gommon, and HPBC has said it hopes that remaining stained glass windows will be retained. A stone turret in the front of the building will create a spiral staircase in one of the planned townhouses.
Subject to securing planning consent, HPBC has said it is aiming to start construction in spring 2018 with works expected to take around 14 months.
A church hall annexe, which was a later addition to the church building, will be demolished to make way for a detached house and four cottage-style apartments in two blocks, bringing the total number of properties around the site to 16. According to HPBC, this will make the conversion economically viable. Rev Peter Morgan, who was the priest for St Bernard’s until its 2012 closure, will remain in the neighbouring presbytery.
The properties will be a similar design to HPBC’s earlier development of 32 houses on a neighbouring site. They were built through a combination of self-build, volunteering and corporate philanthropy, and in a concept known as ‘sweat equity’, HPBC offered those who spent 500 hours building their homes a £10,000 contribution towards a deposit. HPBC says if plans are approved it will use this model again.
A shared ownership basis means that buyers pay an amount for the house, with the remainder being owned by a housing association. The buyer then pays rent to the housing association, but over time is offered the opportunity to purchase further shares. According to HPBC, advanced discussions are in place with a registered provider for the shared ownership scheme.
The shared ownership scheme was used in the earlier 32-house development, and those who applied had to be first-time buyers, live or work in Liverpool or have a connection to the city, and be able to afford a mortgage.
HPBC is a not-for-profit charity founded in 2002 and supplying affordable new homes, and its 32-house development won the 2016 Build It award for the best collective self-build project.