AN historic church in Loftus has been brought into public ownership.
Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council today, Wednesday 1 July, completed the purchase of the Congregational Church, located on the high street, at a cost of £47,500.
The council’s intention is to renovate it into a business and cultural event space which could stream cinema films and host community performances.
The church, which in its later years was known as Loftus United Reformed Church, was built in 1906 by Charles Hebditch who later married there.
The building closed its doors in the 1990s and has stood empty ever since. It is considered a key building in the area, with its tower marking the west end of Loftus and the entrance to the historic heart of the town.
It was announced by Central Government last year that Loftus was to benefit from the Future High Streets Fund – a £1 billion pot dedicated for high streets up and down the country. This purchase will support the council’s bid to reenergise and transform Loftus High Street.
Earlier this year, the council also bought the Grade II-listed former Barclays Bank building, located at the heart of the Market Place, to transform it into high-quality tourist accommodation and to reintroduce a form of banking or post office service to the area.
Councillor Wayne Davies, Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, said: “Loftus High Street is at the heart of the local community and our vision is to transform the area into a modern market town to offer new opportunities for residents and visitors.
“We want to bring the church building back into use to support the local economy. We aim to renovate it to improve its appearance and turn it into a vibrant space where people want to go and spend their time.
“This is another real positive step demonstrating our commitment to Loftus and East Cleveland. We want to make sure people come and visit and stay here, we want to create jobs for local people, and for our businesses to thrive.”
The next steps for the council are to make the building safe, improve the outward appearance and refurbish the inside.
More concrete plans for the building will be publicised in due course.
To see the council’s ambitious plans for Loftus High Street, please visit: www.redcar-cleveland.gov.uk