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Page last updated at 12:28 GMT, Tuesday, 14 July 2009 13:28 UK
Locals call for 'eyesore' cleanup
Inside of a church
Residents of Whitchurch would like the church restored to its former glory

Whitchurch residents are urging the Diocese of Bristol to clean up a run-down church which they say has become an eyesore.

St Augustine's Church on Whitchurch Lane was closed in 2007 when the building was found to be unsafe.

It has been neglected ever since, despite plans to demolish the building and build a new church on the site.

Local resident Sylvia Pavey told BBC Bristol that the area "looks like an absolute wilderness".

"There's a house attached to the church, a beautiful house it was and you cannot see that house now.

"Everything is overgrown around it, it is boarded up and I just don't know what it would take to start to clear it. Every day the job gets bigger and bigger."

Lesley Farrall is the secretary of the Diocese of Bristol which owns the church. She said: "I do have every sympathy; it is in a state.

"Together with the congregation we are going to have to try and do something about it."

Communication issues

One of the difficulties that the Diocese of Bristol faced was an agreement with Bristol City Council.

It meant that once the building closed, the Diocese needed to get permission as the building was no longer going to be used as a place of worship.

In order to be able to spend the money on it, to demolish the building, and put a new, much smaller building on the site, the Diocese of Bristol needed to get an agreement from the city council.

"Over the last few days the legal documents have come over my desk," added Lesley Farrall.

"That means that within a very short time now we should be able to work with the local people and lend them the money to get the site cleared.

"Once it's cleared, we'll be able to work with developers hopefully and recoup the money from there."

"If we haven't communicated properly I can only apologise.

"We've been talking with the local people who actually used to worship in the building... but yes, perhaps we should have talked more widely with the people who don't go to church."

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