Letchworth church closes after building inspection highlights significant problems
PUBLISHED: 08:28 18 December 2019
Danny Loo Photography 2017
A church has closed after building inspectors found significant problems with its current state of repair.
Christmas services due to be held at St Michael the Archangel on Letchworth's Broadway will now be held in the adjacent parish hall and at the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Letchworth Lane.
The church, which was only dedicated in 1967, was designed by Laurence King with a central space for worship, but has been beset with problems for years.
In a St Albans Diocese parish profile it says: "The building was largely experimental in design and use of materials. The 10-sided space is 'held' together by six panels of stained glass that used a non-traditional method to fix the glass. Inspections of the building prove that inadequate materials were used during construction; for example, the copper roofing is thinner than the copper specified in the original drawings and the building has leaked from the outset.
"The building has been a heavy drain on time and resources. Much remains to be done and it would be a relief to focus on mission and outreach rather than constantly addressing the demise of bricks and mortar."
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Every five years, church buildings must be inspected by an architect or chartered building surveyor.
Professional advice following the 2019 Quinquennial Report - as it is known - has resulted in St Michael's closing.
Reverend Robert Kozak, Priest in Charge, said: "We hope the closure will be temporary, but the recent inspection brought to light issues that will require time and resource to correct.
"Meanwhile, we are preparing to welcome the community into alternative venues for our Christmas services. It would be unthinkable not to celebrate Christ's birth, with the Christmas message of peace and goodwill so appropriate as our communities seek to heal divisions in society."
He said it is very much Christmas as usual - with a carol service on Sunday, crib service and Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and two services on Christmas Day.
Father Kozak added: "We will keep the community posted about our progress with the building and hope to start work once we have an idea of the scope of works required and raise sufficient funds."
Full details of times and venues for the alternative Christmas services are on the church website letchworthparish.com.
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