Church roof is fixed but battle over pylons route

PUBLISHED: 07:01 19 July 2015

Friends of Portbury Church. Ann Longstaff, Barbara Davies, Johnny Johnson, Rita and Les Summerfield.

Friends of Portbury Church. Ann Longstaff, Barbara Davies, Johnny Johnson, Rita and Les Summerfield.

Archant

The roof of a historic church has been fixed after its congregation raised £170,000 – but now churchgoers have their eyes on stopping proposed pylons ruining their grade I-listed church.

Ane Longstaff with a copy of the letter sent to planners regarding the proposed pylon route.Ane Longstaff with a copy of the letter sent to planners regarding the proposed pylon route.

The repairs began last year to save St Mary’s Church in Portbury because its roof was in a poor state.

Extensive fundraising, and a grant of £93,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, means the church’s long-term future has been secured.

But, churchgoers are concerned that the 11th century church may face a different threat in future.

One of National Grid’s possible pylon routes goes along the M5 corridor and close to the church, and many villagers feel it would cause irreparable harm to the historic building, if allowed to go ahead.

Churchwarden Ann Longstaff has written to National Grid to emphasise the church’s history, with the site having been used for religious reasons in Saxon, Roman and Neolithic times.

She said: “Not only is our church a grade I-listed building, widely valued by the community, but it contains a wealth of unique history which has not always been appreciated.”

Mrs Longstaff fears pylons within a few hundred meters on the church will spoil the landscape and deter people visiting because they do not like being near the structures.

She said: “We hold events and barbecues on the open green space at the back of the church, on the north side adjacent the M5.

“We have concerts and many different fundraising events which may not continue. Without an ongoing congregation and support from our friends group, we are fearful the church will close.”


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