A CHURCH on Oxford Road that opened 120 years ago will not be demolished, after plans to turn the site into flats were refused.

The Grovelands Baptist Church, 553 Oxford Road, opened in 1899 and belongs to the Gate church, who hold services at their Meadway site. The Gate use the Oxford Road building for church groups and other events.

Councillor Ruth McEwan said: “This is a very beautiful building, built by a famous Reading architect. People have a lot of fondness for the building.”

The Gate wanted to demolish the church and build flats on the site instead, with community halls too. But on Wednesday March 6, the planning committee at Reading Borough Council voted to refuse permission for the plans.

Cllr Karen Rowland said: “This is a bit of Reading history. We are the caretakers of the heritage in this town. There is a lot of heritage along the road. Someone should creatively use what we have there.”

Some councillors on the committee raised the cost of restoring and maintaing the church.

Cllr Ed Hopper said: “It’s going to continue to deteriorate. What is going to be left there … is a locally listed pile of bricks because it is going to fall down. I hate seeing buildings like that go but I don’t like seeing buildings like that just be left there to fall to the ground.”

Six councillors voted to refuse permission for the plans and two councillors voted against refusal.