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Ilminster Methodist Church revamp "win,win situation", says owner
THE owner of an iconic Ilminster church said its transformation into accommodation for adults with learning disabilities would be a “win-win situation” if plans are approved.
Ilminster Methodist Church, off West Street, has been closed since 2005 due to high maintenance costs and a dwindling congregation.
Chris Baranowski, on behalf of Mr Doake, has applied to South Somerset District Council to convert the Grade II listed building into 12 rooms.
Mr Doake said the idea came about because of his God son, who suffers from a learning disability.
He said: “It is a win-win situation and Ilminster is the kind of place they [adults with learning disabilities] want to be.
“I know one family who send their child to Salisbury. Ilminster is a nice place, not too intimidating like Taunton and Yeovil.”
The church dates back to 1887 and the plans are for six two-bedroom and six one-bedroom units over two floors.
Cllr Andrew Shearman, who chairs Ilminster Town Council’s planning committee, said it recommended the plans are approved.
He added: “Councillors felt as long as the fabric of the building was not going to be damaged then the plans were for the good of the community.”
Planners at South Somerset District Council will decide the future of the church and developer Mr Baranowski said he expects a decision by early July.
He said: “Any scheme that preserves the building in tact is worth looking at – it is important the building is kept for Ilminster because it has an important contribution to the town.
“The best use of the building is as a church but that is not possible and it needs a lot of money spent on it to bring it back to life.”
County councillor Linda Vijeh, whose role includes work with disabled adults, said the building had an important presence in Ilminster.
She added: “This will help to preserve the building within its historical context and will also provide a much needed, economically viable and sustainable solution.
“It provides a link to people’s collective past and helps to maintain local pride in the area.”
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