Bethel Chapel

The Welsh Presbyterian church at the bottom of Heathfield Road - is currently awaiting demolition, under the terms of planning permission No.10F/0548 which will see the former vestry and adjacent rooms in Auckland Road converted and extended to serve as a new church. For the time being, the Welsh congregation is holding its Sunday services in the Blue Coat School Chapel.

In our September 2004 Newsletter, we reported that the Welsh Presbyterian chapel at the bottom of Heathfield Road was to be demolished, and replaced by a four-storey apartment block (together with a small modern chapel). We objected to this planning application - arguing that the existing chapel, or at least its façade, should be incorporated into any new development - but eventually, in August 2006, planning permission was granted for a modified version of the scheme. The Save Our City Campaign had attempted to get the building Listed, but this was turned down by English Heritage on the grounds that the Chapel (built in 1927) was not of sufficient architectural or historic interest. In the event, however, nothing happened, owing to a dispute between the owners of the Chapel (the Presbyterian Church of Wales) and the prospective developers (TRB Estates).

Four years on, the condition of the chapel - which was built to accommodate over 700 worshippers, but now has a congregation of less than 100 - continued to deteriorate. The owners applied (ref. 10F/0548) for planning permission to demolish the main chapel, but this time the proposal was to retain part of the building at the rear (on the corner of Auckland Road and Heathfield Road) and convert it into a new, smaller, chapel. We expressed regret at the loss of the landmark building, but satisfaction that a section of it would survive as a reminder of the importance of the Welsh community in the development of 19th/20th century Liverpool. In the absence of definite proposals for the redevelopment of the site (owing to the current economic recession) we suggested that the boundary wall and railings, at least, should be retained pending the submission of a further planning application.
Planning permission was granted by the City Council on 2nd June 2010.

Above: Bethel Chapel, 28th March 2011

Above: Smithdown Place circa 1930

Above: Smithdown Place, 28th March 2011

To view the approved Planning Application drawings for Bethel Chapel, and the Decision Notice, visit the Liverpool Planning Explorer website and enter the relevant reference (10F/0548) into the Application Number box. Then click the 'Search' button. When details of the application appear, click the number, then click 'Related Documents' (at the bottom of the page). To view any of the PDF files listed, right-click on the Document Name and download/save the file in the usual way.

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