Historic Doctor Who church may be saved by homes for elderly plan

A HISTORIC church in Cardiff, earmarked for closure next month, could be saved as a place of worship as part of a social housing project.
St Paul’s Church on Paget Street, Grangetown, which once featured in Doctor Who, has been on the market for eight years because it can no longer afford the £1.3 million annual maintenance costs.
St Paul's Church, Grangetown
St Paul’s Church, Grangetown
Now Wales and West Housing wants to buy and renovate the building, turning part of it into homes for the elderly and disabled but keeping the congregational area for worship.
The church is a Grade II listed building, which protects many of its historic features, making it difficult to sell for development.
Clare Barton, spokeswoman for Wales and West Housing, of Alexandra Gate, said: “Wales and West Housing is working closely with the church in Wales and the parish on a planning application that will hopefully enable a scheme that delivers much-needed affordable housing for the area, while retaining part of the church building for worship and community use.”
The planning process could take a few months. But if the Cardiff council approves the project the re-vamped church  could reopen next year on its 126th birthday.
She said: “It is early days. We are still discussing the plan and of course we still need approval for it to happen.”
The Rev David Thomas thinks the plan could work and is happy that the housing association offer could save a well-loved building.

David Thomas, vicar of St Paul’s

Rev Thomas, of Llanmaes Street, said: “We are very excited about the proposals because it means that the church can continue to be a place of Christian worship, as well as providing housing for some of the most vulnerable in the community.
“The church and the surrounding land were on the market for some years until this suggestion came our way a year or two ago, all being well this will be a wonderful compromise.”
Councillor Chris Lomax said: “St Paul’s was built 125 years ago and needs a great deal of work for it to continue in its present form. Because of falling congregation numbers it was decided to put the building up for sale and build a modern church alongside the old one.
“Wales and Welsh Housing Association got permission from Cadw to put windows in at a lower level in the part of the church where the congregation sat so the sanctuary would be created into a smaller church.”
Cadw, the Welsh historical sites authority, supports the idea as a way of sustaining a part of Cardiff’s heritage.
Coun. Lomax said: “I think this is a great idea, St Paul’s will be brought back into use in the community providing shelter for the aged and the vulnerable and retaining the church all being on a smaller scale.”
While the church undergoes renovation, members of the public will be able to use the church hall as a place of worship.