A landmark 19th century church in the heart of Blackpool is to be demolished, The Gazette can reveal.
High running costs have been blamed for the decision to knock down Christ Church with All Saints on Palatine Road.
It is hoped a more modern building – most likely smaller with potential for car parking – will be erected in its place.
Rev Alan Byrom said: “Our proposal is to demolish the building and rebuild on the same site. We have thought long and hard about this.
“Many in the church have a strong attachment to our building and we understand that many people in the area have similar feelings.”
“Unfortunately, the costs and repairs and maintenance of such a large building are prohibitive.
“Even if essential repairs were carried out we would still be using a building that would require ongoing running costs that are unsustainable.
“Such expenditure on a building that is not flexible enough for our needs or that of the community would not be the best use of our limited resources.”
He added that the 119-year-old church was not sufficiently equipped to properly accommodate the building’s many clubs, including children’s groups, family craft evenings, lunches for students and an over-55s coffee club.
He said: “We feel we must conclude that continuing in the current building is not the best way of serving God and community.
“Our proposal is to demolish the building and rebuild on the same site.
“There would be a church building where there always has been one.
“We are at the stage of consulting widely with the council, ward councillors and interested local groups as well as the relevant church authorities.”
The new church will aim to provide more user-friendly spaces for community activities, with up-to-date amenities, energy-efficient lighting and a car park.
All costs and funding arrangements have yet to be announced.
The Blackpool Civic Trust, which works to preserve and protect features of historical interest in the town, lists Christ Church with All Saints as one of its locally ‘listed’ buildings.
Trust chairman Joan Humble said: “Blackpool Civic Trust will look very carefully at this proposal because Christ Church is on our local list of historic buildings.
“Blackpool has lost so many of its historic buildings over the years and it would be very sad to lose another.
“We shall look carefully at the reasons that the congregation have given and set that against the historical importance of the church.”
There will be a public meeting to discuss the project when building proposals are at a more advanced stage.
Tom Hepworth, 57, who attends Christ Church with All Saints, said: “I think it’s a great shame that the church can’t afford to keep going.
“I’m a great fan of the architecture and it’s a beautiful building.
“It will be quite sad to see it gone.”
There will be a public meeting to discuss the future of the church at a later date when proposals are at a more advanced stage.