Stanley St Peter’s Church will be demolished

w3361c615 Stanley St Peters Church for 'then and now' feature.

w3361c615 Stanley St Peters Church for 'then and now' feature.

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Controversial plans to knock down an historic church will go ahead, despite attempts to get government intervention.

The Wakefield Diocese will go-ahead with its decision to demolish Stanley St Peter’s Church, which has stood empty for 10 years.

Action groups and heritage organisations objected, calling for Eric Pickles, the secretary of state for communities and local government, to order a public inquiry.

This week Church Of England bosses confirmed the demolition will go ahead after Mr Pickles decided not to take the matter any further.

The case was referred to the department to his department by the Victorian Society and Ancient Monuments Society.

Victorian Society church conservation advisor Tom Ashley said: “We are disappointed that the secretary of state has decided not to call this in.

“This is a church with various problems, but we felt it could be saved and put to good use. It is a loss to the local community and country.”

The Church of England Commissioners ruled that the proposal can go ahead, despite a petition of 127 names and 24 representations against the plan.

Ancient Monuments Society secretary Matthew Saunder said: “It is always desperately sad when a church is shut and destroyed.

“There was a lot of local support to keep it.”

The diocese has pledged to install a memorial in the churchyard and a war memorial will be removed and located elsewhere in the village.

In a statement it said: “This is a sad day for everyone involved in the parish life of St Peter’s. No-one likes to see a church closed or demolished and the old church building has been an important part of many people’s lives.”

Rev Bill Henderson added: “This has been a very painful process but we have to look forward and there is still a vibrant church centre in Stanley that together we can develop and grow for the future.”

Some of the church’s holy carvings, known as misericords, may be lost forever after they vanished. The diocese is hopeful two, discovered for sale at Christies, will be returned in the new year.