The Building Conservation ProjectOwnership • Project Costs and Funding • Timetable • Activity Plan • Appointments and Activities • Project Team • The Building Works • Press Articles
The West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust (WMHBT) is a registered Building Preservation Trust charity, with specialists in the field of building conservation giving their time on a voluntary basis to serve as trustees. WMHBT's purpose is to safeguard buildings within the West Midlands that are of historical or architectural importance and is able to attract grants and low-cost loans to carry out the type of rescue scheme often necessary with historic ‘Buildings at Risk’.
The former Lye and Wollescote Cemetery Chapels is a Grade II listed building. The associated cemetery continues in use but the nonconformist chapel was closed in the 1970s and the Church of England chapel closed following a fire in 1993 which caused minor damage to the interior.
In conjunction with Dudley Council, after extensive public consultation and thanks to funding from a range of sources including the Heritage Lottery Fund, WMHBT prepared a scheme and obtained statutory consents to convert the cemetery chapels building to create rooms suitable for use as offices, thereby providing a regular income and a secure future for the building. The building is now in use by the Registrar as a venue for weddings and other civil ceremonies.
The complex has been converted into a secular building with meeting and ceremony rooms and office spaces for staff with the objective of the building being non-religious. This has now been achieved and the spaces can no longer be seen as a religious building. We do hope that this can be appreciated by everyone who visits and uses the building.
As a result of securing the funding necessary to implement the scheme, under an agreement between WMHBT and Dudley Council, ownership of the property was transferred to WMHBT. Now that the building works are complete, the Trust lets the building and retains freehold ownership to ensure appropriate ongoing maintenance and care of the property.Back to top of page
An initial Feasibility Study commissioned by the Trust from Brownhill Hayward Brown, conservation architects, estimated total project costs of approximately £1,264,000. Following more detailed planning work and costing during a project development phase, the estimate of total costs has been reduced to approximately £1,206,000 with £56,000 expended during the development phase.
Funding sufficient to deliver the project was secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund (read the full press release in MS Word), with partnership funding from W A Cadbury Charitable Trust, The Owen Family Trust, the Society of Antiquaries of London and thanks to support throughout the project development work by Dudley Council and West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust volunteer members.Back to top of page
Planning permission and listed building consent approvals were granted in July 2014.
Following completion of the tendering process in early 2015, approval was obtained from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the building contract was let with the contractors, Croft Building & Conservation Ltd. They started work on site at the end of March 2015 and works were completed in early 2016. Croft are contractors with the specialist skills and experience to tackle historic building conservation work of this type.
As part of the HLF grant award an Activity Plan was approved. It sets out community, learning and participation proposals to be implemented whilst the buildings were being refurbished. It also identifies resources and partnerships to be put place to enable the benefits to be enjoyed into the future.Back to top of page
This is a community project and WMHBT is a charity run by volunteers. In addition to returning the chapels building to a viable use, the project aims also include:
- The installation of on-site interpretive panels
- Work with teachers to create a pack for schools with resources for children to use for project work on subjects such as the built environment and nature conservation, as well as social history, citizenship and other aspects of the school curriculum.