‘We left chapel as long as we could,’ says developer
The developer in charge of building new homes on the former Caistor hospital site has spoken about the decision to demolish a historic chapel.
The former workhouse chapel off North Kelsey Road, which was built in 1865, was demolished yesterday (Tuesday, March 6, 2018), sparking widespread anger and sadness among Caistor residents.
Mandy Lott, Sales Manager of Cannon Kirk Homes was discussing a separate matter with the Citizen – regarding the company’s potential willingness to support the town’s fledgling Community Cinema.
During the conversation, Ms Lott was asked about the chapel and she spoke about the company’s willingness to have gifted the chapel to the community.
“We were not the original developer that drew up the plans,” she said. “They didn’t build. At the time we bought the land from them, it was hoped the chapel would become a community building. We were willing to gift the chapel, but West Lindsey District Council didn’t want to pay for its renovation or upkeep, and after a while, the Town Council said the same.
“There was one town councillor who approached us and said he would try to get some Lottery funding for it, but after about six months he came back and said he didn’t think it was going to be possible and it would be too costly to renovate.
“We have planning permission for three plots, and have had the permission for at least three years. It’s been just sitting there, becoming worse and worse, and a bit of an eyesore. But it was available. We left it for as long as we could.
“There is a process for getting permission to demolish a building. It’s not like you can just decide to knock something down. We wondered if there would be a reaction, but we didn’t hear anything from anyone.”
Ms Lott said she had visited Caistor personally “to get a feel for the place.” and said it was beautiful.
Regarding the chapel, she added, “Most people who live on the site have not said anything. We have about 40 people who live on the site and a couple of people said, ‘have you enough money to do something with that chapel?’ but people don’t realise how much the cost of it was going to be. It would have cost so much just to make it stable.
“It wasn’t only the cost of the renovation, but the upkeep, which would have meant continual outlay. We were hoping to transfer the chapel, but the local councils came back and said they could not do it.
Ms Lott confirmed that there was a Section 106 agreement to make payments in stages, but the triggers had not been reached because of delays outside the company’s control.
She invited the Caistor Community Cinema group to make a request for support in writing.
The photograph, taken in January 2016, shows the chapel surrounded by new development. Photograph by Shona Wall.