THE developer that has bought a historic Stacksteads church has said he will renovate it and hand it back to the community for free.

Laurence Daw, director of Daw Developments, bought the Grade Two listed Waterbarn Baptist Church, and 3.5 acres of land encompassing Waterbarn Recreation Ground, previously used by Stacksteads Cricket Club, at auction in April.

Mr Daw is now appealing for the local community to make suggestions as to what they would like the crumbling chapel to be transformed into.

Mr Daw, whose company has projects in London, Manchester and Sao Paulo, said all of his developments have a social element, and would use the finance from building two houses on the land to refurbish the church and turn it into ‘whatever the community would like’.

The 27-year-old, from Burnley, also renovated Broadclough Mill in Bacup to create space for 26 units used by individuals and small businesses.

He said: “I’d like to get people’s ideas on what they want it to be.

“Then hold a meeting for everyone with coffee and cakes, in three or four months, and then put proposals into the council for spring time next year.

“I’ve spoken to a handful of neighbours, which isn’t many, but I want to reassure everyone that it wouldn’t be social housing built there, just a couple of nice houses. I’d like to turn the building into something that the residents that have been there for years can use.

“What’s holding us up at the moment is the land is dangerous. The riverbank is collapsing and will worsen over the next few years. It’s so bad at the moment that I can’t get liability insurance for the site. It’ll take £130,000 just to make the fields safe.

“We’ve got signs up on the gates saying it’s dangerous to let people know. It worries me because people walk their dogs on there, and adults can take care of themselves, but I don’t want a child falling over and hitting their head or anything.”

Rossendale’s MP, Jake Berry, said: “I have been contacted by a lot of local residents who are concerned that the chapel looks like it is about to collapse at any moment. These latest photos show just how much the building has deteriorated.

“I’m pleased that progress is now being made and I’m looking forward to seeing what the new owners come up with.”

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