New Future for Former Methodist Church?

Posted: 25/7/2017

Approvals have been granted for well known building at risk, former Methodist Church at University Road to be turned into a public house. With a proposed spend of £2 million by established chain JD Wetherspoon.

The former Methodist Church, University Road, Belfast was built in 1865 to designs by architect W.J. Barre. It is grade B listed and is an important building within the Queen’s Conservation Area. The building is mid Victorian design of red, yellow and blue brick with stone. It’s campanile, or free standing Italian style bell tower, stands prominently on University Road, framing the street with the spires of the nearby Crescent and Moravian listed churches.

HB26-28-006 Methodist Church (deconsecrated) University road.JPG

The building was listed in 1979, and has been on the Built Heritage at Risk (BHARNI) Register since 2005. Amongst other items, we understand its pews and organ have been removed prior to current ownership. It is unfortunate to have lost this extent of interior historic fabric, and has suffered water ingress. Therefore, the priority with future restoration must be to restore and conserve the original architectural detail that remains. Of particular note are all surviving details of cast and wrought iron, original joinery, and stone carving of vegetation on window surrounds. Previous plans proposed the demolition of the adjoining historic church halls. These are complimentary to the setting of the listed building, and we are pleased to see that these have now been incorporated into future use.

The recently approved application has been in progress since 2014. Given the time it has taken to obtain permission, with regard to the building’s current state of repair, it is now of urgent importance that restoration proceeds, as soon as possible, with due regard to approvals and conditions. UAHS is aware that Wetherspoon’s has some successful prior experience of putting historic buildings back into use, and we hope that a high quality project can result from the approval of these plans.

Read the associated Belfast Telegraph article here.

About the Built Heritage at Risk (BHARNI) Register:

The Built Heritage at Risk Northern Ireland Register (BHARNI) highlights over 500 buildings and structures of historical and architectural interest in Northern Ireland whose future seems threatened and may be suitable for reuse through repair or restoration. Over 200 buildings and structures featured on the register in the past have since found new owners and new uses, while many still seek a new future. The register is managed and maintaining by the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society in partnership with the Department for Communities: Historic Environment Division.

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