Conservation fear over plan to remove Leeds church pews and organ

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CONSERVATION experts have objected to the proposed removal of rows of pews and an organ from a historic Leeds church.

As reported in yesterday’s Yorkshire Evening Post, a planning application has been submitted to Leeds City Council for the work at the disused Farnley Hill Methodist Church on Stonebridge Lane.

A statement submitted with the application says: “The removal of the box pews and organ will not have an impact on the historical architectural value of the building as a whole.”

But worries about the plan are outlined in a letter written by Matt Bentley, a senior conservation officer at the council, in response to the application.

Mr Bentley says in the letter: “The [principle] concern is that the proposals do not justify the harm caused to the building through a re-use, and do not propose a new development of the property.

“With no proposed re-use the loss of this amount of historic fabric is not justified and cannot be accepted. There are also no proposals for the upgrade of the rest of the building.”

The planning application has been lodged by Arshad Mahmood, of Fawcett Lane, Wortley. Application documents say the space taken up by the pews has made it impossible to capitalise on interest in letting out the building for events such as yoga classes and children’s parties.