1. ITV Report

Derelict chapel in Kingswood near Bristol to be restored and turned into a performing arts centre

The former chapel is to be turned into a performing arts centre. Credit: ITV West Country

A derelict chapel near Bristol is to be restored, thanks to a £682,000 grant from the West of England Combined Authority.

The Grade-I listed Whitfield Tabernacle in Kingswood is thought to have been the birthplace of Methodism. It's going to be re-opened as a performing arts centre.

South Gloucestershire Council says that, despite being in the town centre, the Conservation Area site - which includes the Grade-II listed Masters Church and the adjoining graveyard - has been derelict and overgrown for some 27 years.

Now, with Kingswood identified as the pilot scheme for the "Love our High Streets" project, there is renewed ambition for the area.

Credit: ITV West Country

The graveyard will be 'respectfully transitioned' into a park.

The Masters Church has planning permission for 19 apartments and three new houses, while the graveyard will be respectfully transitioned into a public park space and transferred to the Council.

The tabernacle was built in 1741 and is important to Kingswood’s history, being home to the birth of the non-conformist religious movement and its founders George Whitfield and John Wesley.

The 18th century Whitfield Tabernacle in happier days. Credit: South Gloucestershire Council

The Conservation Area has suffered from decades of neglect despite many efforts to intervene from the public and private sector and when I and the other WECA Leaders came together to discuss a dedicated fund for High Streets, this was exactly the sort of long-standing challenge we wanted to tackle.

The regeneration of the Whitfield Tabernacle plays a significant part in the bigger vision we have for rejuvenating Kingswood and this funding will help us significantly to seize this opportunity, not only to bring this run-down site back into public use, but to deliver new and exciting services.

– Cllr Toby Savage, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council

South Gloucestershire Council is creating a master plan which will be put to the public early in 2020.