Last week earlier on the day that the Queen died one of the short debates that took place was between Caroline Ansell from Eastbourne who I have met in the past asked a question and Andrew Selous who is the was the Church Estates Commissioner responded. I have been aware of Andrew for many years and it was very significant that he has this role. Here is the full question and answer session and it is very interesting given that it is related to housing requirements for Eastbourne and indeed in other locations. As it happens along with having met Caroline Ansell I have also visited St Elizabeth Church in Eastbourne a number of years ago and it is certainly a building that has had many challenges in the last few years.
Ansell: What steps the Church is taking to provide affordable, sustainable housing on its land.
Selous: Following the Church’s “Coming Home” report on meeting housing need, the Church is looking to establish a new national housing association and to make use of Church-owned land to develop more affordable homes where we are able to, along with pod homes to house vulnerable people temporarily.
Ansell: Understandably, there were mixed feelings when the original St Elizabeth’s church in Eastbourne’s old town had to be demolished, but the church community moved next door and is thriving. Demolition created a significant site in a prime location in a town where housing development opportunities are few and far between. May I ask my hon. Friend what progress has been made in order to realise the potential on the site?
Selous: St Elizabeth’s Eastbourne was due for demolition in 2019 because the building was unsafe, and I am pleased that the congregation are thriving in their new location. We are now looking for a new home for the Hans Feibusch murals from the crypt, which I have to say, from the photographs I have seen of them, are very splendid. We are working with the local council, developers and the local community to find an appropriate housing scheme for this site.
Hi Ian and many thanks for your very informative and excellent comments. I live very near to St Elizabeth’s and was delighted to see one of the ugliest churches I’ve ever seen disappear. The fuss over the murals, which had degraded considerably, and were, in my opinion pretty average anyway, was extreme and the views of a small vocal minority who wanted them preserved, delayed the demolition of the church for many many years, which in view of the housing shortage was wrong. A developer had ambitious plans for creating a block of expensive flats in the shell of the building, but that was thankfully shelved. The whole sorry saga dragged on for goodness knows how many years until at last the church was demolished. I sincerely hope that affordable housing will be built, its needed. And please, not another care home. And thanks again Ian for all your hard work, the the sharing of the fruits of your labours!
Many thanks for your response Clare. I am very grateful for you reading it and your comment.