Solutions sought to give Brighton church a new lease of life

St Martin's Church, Brighton
St Martin's Church, Brighton

The community is being asked for ‘practical, exciting and commercially viable ideas’ for the reuse of a 19th century church in Brighton.

St Martin’s Church in Lewes Road is a Grade-II listed building, but The Diocese of Chichester, which owns the building, said it is under used and in danger of falling into disrepair.

St Martin's Church, Brighton

St Martin's Church, Brighton

Although the church can hold up to 1,500 people, it is currently home to a congregation of around 60 people.

Now the Diocese has teamed up with consultancy Colander Associates to offer cash prizes for the best solutions for its reuse; £10,000 for the winning idea and two £6,000 pots for runners up.

A spokesperson for the project said: “Creative solutions are sought that will respect the integrity of this beautiful listed structure whilst at the same time adding new life and economic sustainability.

“St Martin’s Church is an extraordinary building and it warrants a second lease of life. Given its location, its scale and its volume, it also has huge potential for redevelopment.

St Martin's Church, Brighton

St Martin's Church, Brighton

“This competition invites teams to think creatively about St Martin’s Church and generate innovative but commercially sustainable new uses for this building, which is currently under used and in danger of falling into disrepair.

“Whilst this is not a live project the competition hopes to bring forward solutions that could be implemented in the future.”

The competition brief added: “It is the intention to retain a consecrated space in any redevelopment: mass is said every day.”

The building was founded as a mission church in 1867 by The Rev Arthur Wagner, and St Martin’s was rebuilt in the 1870s by Wagner and his brothers, in memory of their father The Rev Henry Wagner.

It is described as ‘a rather plain, brown brick building, built in the early English style’. But it is the interior space which warrants its Grade-II listing, where all the fittings were designed by architect Somers Clarke.

The Diocese of Chichester is calling on collaborations between architects, surveyors, landscape architects, engineers, developers, entrepreneurs, investors, end-users and any other specialist with ideas to contribute. It said each team should include a registered architect.

Teams intending to enter this competition are asked to register by 5pm on Wednesday, September 12.

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