People in Rugby are being urged to back a plan to keep the disused St Matthew’s church for use by the public.
The landmark grade-II listed building in Bloxam Place has been out of use since 2012. Coventry Diocese last week announced it had been sold subject to contract to an as-yet-unnamed bidder, having been on the market for offers around £300,000.
But now a charity that has also bid for it is appealing for public support for its plan to use the building for socially beneficial purposes, and rename it the Welcome Centre. It would run it on a not-for-profit basis.
Rob Saunders, trustee and chairman of the group, called Greater Things (Rugby), said: “We would like to show the sellers the strength of support from the people of this town for our proposed use of the building.
“We believe it is the right option for the future, and will lead to a more inclusive future that will be of benefit to everyone in Rugby.”
Later this month, the group is meeting representatives from the Church Commissioners, who are responsible for the Church of England’s property. Mr Saunders added: “We have been backed by a generous donor who has put up the purchase money to buy the building. This has enabled us to make a good market value offer for the property.”
Ward councillor Neil Sandison is supporting the group. He said: “I have been amazed at the resilience, skill and knowledge of this group.
“At every meeting I have attended it has been packed solid with positive people with Rugby’s community needs and interests at heart.
“I do hope this group is successful and the residents of Rugby get behind them.
“It’s in the hands of Rugbieans if it wants protect its heritage and provide accessible space and potential community facilities.”
More than 700 people have already pledged their support by signing a petition calling for the building to be retained for use by the public, and the group is keen for more to give their backing.
The petition can be found online at http://chn.ge/1ax1SoU and is also available to sign at The Christian Bookshop, 7 Castle Street, Rugby.