The controversial plans for Tenby’s iconic St Julian’s Church have been approved - with conditions - by the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC).
The 19th century harbour side building has been at the centre of a storm of protest after a £100,000 scheme to bring it in line with the 21st century were revealed.
Church leaders said the work would create ‘a vibrant, fully-equipped church that attracts worshippers again, whilst at the same time, respecting its history and position in the life of Tenby as Christ’s haven in the harbour’.
Campaigners who initially voiced fears that the project would remove the ‘heart and soul’ from the building said this week that they were ‘preliminarily pleased’ with the outcome of the DAC meeting.
This called for the retention of the church’s brass plaques on the window sills and memorials, its Good Shepherd picture and old painted zinc frieze.
The committee asked for all internal walls of the building to be smooth lime-rendered and felt that the proposed cross-shaped skylight would be ‘inappropriate’ and would set a precedent to other churches.
Said Sarah Williams on behalf of the Save St Julian’s Campaign: “The committee has reacted in a sympathetic way to the plans, and these conditions (if they are adhered to) should result in a much more contoured design and refurbishment than the original plans.
“The Good Shepherd picture remaining in situ is one of our goals accomplished, as is the zinc frieze.
“We are also pleased that the cruciform roof light has been disallowed, as the lightening of the walls will brighten the church to a satisfactory level.”
The committee also suggested a stained glass design depicting the Fishermen’s Chapel in the plain windows on the church’s south-east wall, and recommended that storage cupboards and drawers could be created from some of the good wood from the pews, which are being replaced with chairs.
St Mary’s Parochial Church Council previously said that the little church ‘has reached a moment of decision in its life’.
It added, “Either it remains as it is - a liturgically-redundant and physically run-down curiosity for visitors - or it is re-ordered and re-launched with its own unique ministry for the 21st century.2 -wiring, replacing window frames, resolving damp problems, installing heating and lighting, with a small extension for a kitchenette, toilet and storeroom are amongst the works in the scheme.
Following its approval in principle by the DAC, planning permission will still need to be granted by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.