‘Listing’ of church hall rejected by council

First Broughshane Presbyterian Church Hall

First Broughshane Presbyterian Church Hall

The congregation of a local church have told Mid & East Antrim Council they feared being ‘saddled’ with a hall they no longer want due to a ‘listings issue’.

And, as a result of their protests, a request to serve a temporary ‘Building Preservation Notice’ on the hall while it is under consideration for formal ‘listing’ has been turned down by Council at committee level.

The request, which came from the Department for Communities to Mid & East Antrim Council’s Planning Department in relation to the Magill Hall at Broughshane First Presbyterian Church had been deferred from the committee’s July meeting until August 4 to give representatives from Historic Environment Division and the church the opportunity to make their points.

More than 20 members of the congregation packed into the public gallery to hear the representations for and against the move.

A representative of Historic Environment Division said the process for assessing the hall had been initiated by ‘a listing query’ in December 2015.

He said an independent survey and report on perceived special architectural and historic interest had been commissioned on the hall, which dates to 1927.

The resulting assessment had then been evaluated by a specialist panel which considered it worthy of listing at Grade B 2. He said listing was not a means to preventing alterations to a building but “to identify those features which it is important to preserve”.

Speaking on behalf of the congregation, Paul Frew MLA, said listing would be “a very harmful step” and that the church had plans for a new hall.

“By passing this today, it creates the perception that Council supports the listing of a building that I believe and the church believes is not list worthy,” he said.

A member of the congregation said listing would “saddle” the congregation with a building which no longer meets its needs.

The committee went on to support a proposal by Cr S Nicholl against serving of a building preservation notice.