Plans revealed for former Chapel Arts building
By Laura Enfield | 10th March 2023
Life will go full circle if plans for the former Chapel Arts centre go ahead.
Bosses of a music and arts venue took the heartbreaking decision to close it last summer due to financial and health reasons.
Now an application has been made to Cheltenham Borough Council to transform the Knapp Road site back into a place of worship.
Godfirst Church Cheltenham, currently based at The Parabola Arts Centre in town, wants to take over the building and use it for services and community events.
If given the go ahead, it will be a return to the site's history. It was home to a baptist chapel from 1701 until 1819 when it was demolished due to a dwindling congregation and the need for extensive repairs to the building. It was rebuilt a year later in 1820.
Retired businessman Ian James bought and restored the chapel in 2015 and with Sallie Taylor turned it into Chapel Arts- which hosted hundreds of concerts, free art exhibitions, and workshops.
It closed its doors in July last year and the duo were hopefully someone else would swoop in to carry on running the arts venue but no saviour appeared.
Earlier this week Chapel Arts re-emerged with the launch of an online shop.
It said in a statement on Facebook: "Our doors may be closed and our large pieces are in their new homes. However, we have just launched an ebay shop for 'affordable originals' part of Ian's personal collection."
Church leader Howard Kellett has applied on behalf of Godfirst to take over the former arts centre. It does not plan to make any internal or external changes to the building as it is already fit for use as a church.
It said in its planning application to: "We are pleased to be able to bring the Chapel Arts back into its former use as Christian Church and community use space.
"This could only serve to enhance the features and stature of this distinguished Cheltenham Chapel."
The planning application 23/00279/COU can be viewed on Cheltenham Borough Council's website.
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