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Action to protect Wales’ places of worship

This press release was published under the 2011 - 2016 Welsh government

The Welsh Government is today publishing a new plan to protect vulnerable places of worship across Wales and find ways in which they can remain a valuable part of community life.
Thursday 17 December 2015

Places of worship were once at the heart of Welsh cultural life, but many of these historic buildings are now under threat.

With the figure likely to rise, the Welsh Government has prepared an action plan to encourage new activities that will help retain these cherished buildings as community assets, whether as places of worship or with an alternative purpose.

The plan takes a cross-sectoral approach to dealing with the challenges. One of the first and most important actions from the plan to be taken forward will be the establishment of a forum representing all of these sectoral interests to share information and best practice, review ongoing needs and help steer its delivery.

The first meeting of the forum is being arranged for the end of January.

Speaking ahead of a visit to St Giles Parish Church, in Wrexham, to launch the action plan, the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates said:

“There are over 3,000 listed places of worship in Wales, which shows just how important they have been throughout Wales’ history we well as demonstrating their architectural significance.

“Their future is under threat for many reasons, including dwindling congregations and the capacity to take forward future options. It is always a shame to see these cherished buildings neglected and ultimately when we lose these buildings we lose an important part of our heritage. I am pleased we are launching this plan to encourage joint-working to find the best solution to save these buildings for the future.”

St Giles is grade I listed parish church dating back to the fifteenth century, to this day it remains a community-orientated church, hosting community groups as well as religious services. It has received funding from the Welsh Government for a series of restorative works, including to its iconic tower, which has helped it to retain its use as a place of worship and extend to provide other community benefits.

Alex Glanville, head of Property Services for the Church in Wales, said:

“The Church in Wales is responsible for more than 1,300 places of worship in Wales of which nearly 1,000 are listed buildings, including St Giles.  We very much welcome the initiative of Welsh Government in drawing up the Strategic Action Plan for Historic Places of Worship in Wales.  This gives the whole sector a framework to work together to find new ways to support local congregations in caring for this vital part of Welsh heritage and culture.”

The plan also recognises the tourism value of historic places of worship and is supported by the Welsh Government’s Faith Tourism Action Plan. This recognises faith tourism as an integral part of the visitor experience in Wales and aims to exploit the economic benefits of visitors to these sites for the purpose of sustaining Wales’ Places of Worship.

The Welsh Government’s Heritage Tourism project helped create the Peaceful Places trail of churches and chapels in Ceredigion which open their doors to visitors.

The Deputy Minister said:

“There are already some excellent examples across Wales of ways in which these historic buildings have had new life breathed into them, whether this is to continue in their role as active places of worship or as something new. What is clear is their value to our communities and I am delighted we are taking action to ensure this remains the case for generations to come.”

The action plan supports the aims of the Historic Environment (Wales) Bill, which was introduced to the Assembly earlier this year and will be the first Wales-only legislation to better care and protect Wales’ important historic buildings and monuments.

You can find the Action Plan for Historic Places of Worship here: http://cadw.gov.wales/historicenvironment/policy/historic-places-of-worship/?lang=en

 

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Culture, tourism and sport 17 December 2015 North Wales
 
 

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