Methodist Church now say they will explore options to turn empty Dales chapels into affordable housing

One of thr chapels is in MiddlehamOne of thr chapels is in Middleham
One of thr chapels is in Middleham
The Methodist Church has said it will delay its decision to put three redundant chapels in the Yorkshire Dales up for sale on the open market.

Earlier this month it was announced that the disused chapels in Bainbridge, Aysgarth and Middleham would be sold to the highest bidder due to concerns that allowing them to be converted into affordable homes would 'devalue' the properties, as under National Park planning rules, they would then have to be rented out at low cost to tenants with strong connections to the area in perpetuity.

The Methodist Church's property division, which is dealing with the disposal of the chapels, said there needed to be 'greater flexibility' over the Section 106 policies which reserve affordable homes for local people.

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The local Methodist circuit, whose members had been responsible for the upkeep of the empty buildings during a three-year debate over their future, were disappointed at the decision given the need for affordable housing in the area, and a long-serving preacher even resigned over the failure to reach an agreement.

Now the Methodist Church has stated that they are delaying marketing the buildings with an estate agent while they explore remaining options that could see them converted into affordable homes.

They have also warned supporters of the scheme that charity law is 'complex' and that the Methodist Church, as well as the Church of England, are often bound by legal caveats that can restrict a sale process.

A spokesperson said: "While it has been decided to sell the properties, they are not yet for sale on the open market as we continue to explore any remaining possible options for development into affordable homes. The Church’s officers are committed to working with the local trustees while recognising that charity law in this area is complex, particularly when dealing with assets that may be devalued.”