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Chapel set to be demolished

By Kevin Smith


Bulldozers are due to knock down the chapel at Bognor Regis Cemetery.


Arun District Council has said the need for extensive repairs on a building which is a magnet for anti-social behaviour can’t be justified.


Councillors have been told it would cost more than £100,000 to bring the chapel at the Town Cross Avenue site into the 21st century.


Arun environmental services and strategy manager, Oliver Handson, told the environment and leisure working group last week: “There is no business case to justify this expenditure as the chapel is used on average of six times per year, generating an income of £600.


“Bognor Cemetery is closed for new grave purchases, with only emergency grave space remaining.


“The proposal to demolish the chapel and utilise this space as a new garden of remembrance will generate additional income for the council and provide additional choice for users of the service wishing to inter loved ones at this cemetery.


“In addition to the business case, the chapel and surrounding environs suffers significantly from anti-social behaviour due to the protection it affords to those wishing to undertake illegal activities in its curtilage, i.e. drug taking/dealing, urinating/defecating in public, vandalism to the chapel and memorial.


“The removal of the chapel would deter these activities significantly.”


The demolition costs will be funded by the council’s property and estates section.


In response to a request from Cllr Tony Dixon (I, Aldwick E) for more details, Mr Handson said: “The property and estates team have come up with the cost.


“I think there are issues with the roof, doors and windows to bring the building up to modern standards.”


The proposed demolition will be part of a radical shake-up of Arun’s service to look after five cemeteries. As well as Town Cross Avenue, they include Chalcraft Lane in North Bersted.


The intention is to provide a site-based gardener with mess facilities at Chalcraft Lane to boost the grounds maintenance.


Arun is also about to offer the chance for mourners to scatter their loved ones’ ashes in its cemeteries.


Fees for services are also being revised. Some will increase considerably, some reduce and others will stay the same.


Outside the meeting, local historian and Bognor Regis Post contributor Sylvia Endacott said the chapel had been dedicated in July, 1971.


“It cost about £10,000 and was built with facing bricks and a fibre glass spire,” she said.


“The interior wall finishing was a sound-absorbent veneer and electric heating was provided in the main chapel, the robing room and the toilets.”


The service of dedication was conducted by the Rural Dean and Vicar of South Bersted, the Rev Eric Wells, and the Minister of Bognor Regis Baptist Church, the Rev Alan Braybrooks.


Cllr F Marles, chairman of Bognor Regis, Bersted and Middleton-on-Sea joint burial committee, performed the opening ceremony.


The chapel replaced one built in 1885 and also said to be structurally unsound.

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