Belfast Telegraph

Last-minute protest stops demolition of Straid Congregational Church

Last-minute intervention from local residents has halted the demolition of a church in a Co Antrim village.

On Saturday morning a number of protesters blocked demolition trucks from entering the grounds of Straid Congregational Church.

The building was due to be demolished to allow for a new church to be built.

The BBC reports the church pastor supports the demolition, and attended the scene with a small number of supporters.

Following the intervention by protesters, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council issued a temporary building preservation notice which will last for six months.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, local resident and protester Tom Gilbert said he felt the destruction of the church was "vandalism", but said the pastor of the church had "logical reasons" for wanting to knock it down.

Mr Gilbert added he believed money for a new building would be better spent upgrading the current structure.

The UUP's Steve Aiken, former Alliance party leader David Ford, and DUP MP Paul Girvan were all in attendance at Saturday's protest.

Straid Congregational Church was built in 1856.

Documents dating from September last year released following a freedom of information show an email exchange between an official in the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society and an architect in the Historic Environment Division (HED) of the Department for Communities which focused on the building's listed status.

In the exchange, the architect from the HED states that as part of the Second Survey - a process to review Northern Ireland's building stock to improve the list of buildings of historical or architectural interest - a survey of the building had been carried out, but its record had not been completed.

The architect from the HED states a visit to the site had been carried out in the past week, and the building's record was in the process of being completed.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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