A LANDMARK church built less than 40 years ago is facing demolition due to major structural problems.
Our Lady of Lourdes at Coffee Hall was once one of the most iconic buildings in the city, based on Le Corbusier’s famous Villa Savoye near Paris.
But since its opening in 1975 its signature flat roof and all-glass lower floor have caused nothing but problems, say leaders from the Northampton Catholic diocese.
Their latest estimate to repair the faults is a whopping £400,000.
“It has been decided that it is simply not viable to spend that amount of money on this building,” said diocese spokesman the Rev Paul Hardy.
“Now the church will close later this year and the congregation will move to a new extension to be built at nearby St Paul’s school, part of which will be known as a ‘parish centre’.
The news has shocked many of the 300 parishioners, who have presented the diocese with a petition urging them to think again.
Some, who believe the repairs could be done for half the cost, have even volunteered to raise funds themselves.
But their offer was refused, they say.
“This sorry state of affairs is due to the gross neglect by the trustee of the Diocese of Northampton of property entrusted to them,” said one member of the congregation.
Parishioners are also questioning what the diocese plans to do with the land if the church is demolished.
It is not known whether there is a covenant in place banning other development.
Said the parishioner: “The diocese is not poor. A recent fundraising initiative throughout parishes has to date raised £10 million with £4 million earmarked for local projects in parishes.
“Yet they say they cannot afford to repair our church and keep it open.”
The congregation is also complaining about the lack of consultation from the diocese.
“Our views have not been taken into account. We do not want out church to close down and we do not want to meet in a glorified school hall,” said one member.
“We will do all we can to save Our Lady of Lourdes.”