RAF chapel - future remains in doubt

PLANNERS behind new developments at the former RAF Locking site say it is too early to guarantee whether a treasured chapel will be saved. The church was the only feature on the camp not to be demolished when the new owners, the South West Regional Develo

PLANNERS behind new developments at the former RAF Locking site say it is too early to guarantee whether a treasured chapel will be saved.The church was the only feature on the camp not to be demolished when the new owners, the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) and English Partnerships, took it over in 2002.SWRDA wants to regenerate the site as an employment-led development aimed at attracting new businesses to Weston. But residents living in Locking are worried that its plans involve losing the chapel. They recently voiced their concerns at a public meeting where agency representatives failed to dampen speculation about its future.Last week, Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, who represents Locking ward, secured the unanimous backing of North Somerset Council for a motion to make sure the chapel stays.He said: "There were disturbing rumours going around the village that local church leaders had been told the building would not be kept."It's an important venue because ex-serviceman who used to visit the chapel still live in the area."Cllr Ap Rees also questioned why the site cannot be used as a meeting place for community groups until any new developments take place on the site.He added: "I know in time a more suitable site for community groups to gather may be built but I see no reason why the venue cannot be used in the meantime."But SWRDA development manager, Katharine West, said on Tuesday: "The chapel has not been in use for many years and there may need to be substantial work done to bring it up to current standards. "This would include improving toilet and kitchen facilities as well as making sure the building has adequate heating, ventilation and insurance. "Instead, the agencies involved have retained the building in order to establish whether there are viable options for its long term use.


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