PLANNING APPLICATION The Congregation Hall in Barnard Castle
PLANNING APPLICATION The Congregation Hall in Barnard Castle

A FORMER church building could become the permanent meeting place of a congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses, if plans are approved.

Owen Thoburn, from the Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Britain, has applied to make changes to the former Congregational Church Sunday school building at 12 Hall Street, Barnard Castle.

The Congregational Church was built in 1836 and had been well used, latterly by the United Reformed Church until its closure in October 2016.

The Sunday school building was constructed slightly later and at the rear of the church. Both have been stood empty since the closure.

The changes to the grade II-listed building include installing of internal walls to form a classroom, foyer and toilet area and create a pitched roof over an existing side extension. They relate only to the single-storey Sunday school building.

The Barnard Castle congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses currently meets on Thursdays and Sundays at Marwood Community Centre.

If the plans are approved it will provide the 36-strong congregation with a permanent base in the town. In 1999 planning permission was given to convert a derelict school on the Demesnes, in Barnard Castle, into a meeting hall. 

But plans were abandoned when it became too costly to convert the former infant school, which has since been demolished.

One member of the congregation said: “The church doesn’t have any dedicated parking but we only meet on Thursday evenings and Sundays so there will be ample parking available in all the car parks and the cobbles.”