PROPOSALS to demolish a 20th century church in Blackbird Leys are recommended to be approved by Oxford planning chiefs next week.

The Church of the Holy Family at Cuddeson Way, Blackbird Leys, could be demolished and replaced with a new church, a community centre, and 21 homes and flats.

The church, built in a heart-shaped with a rare example of a 'hyperbolic paraboloid' roof made from timber, is considered an architectural gem by some, who have objected to its demolition.

But the trustees of the church have said the costs of maintaining the current building are prohibitive, as the roof is leaking and floors are sloping.

ALSO READ: Witney family facing separation from two-year-old son

When Oxford City Council's east area planning committee meets next Wednesday at 3pm, it will be asked to approved the demolition of the Grade-II listed building.

A report to the committee 'considers whether public benefits exist that would outweigh the substantial harm to and total loss of the listed church'.

It added: "In this case the report considers that a number of public benefits exist which would deliver economic, social and/or environmental objectives."

This is because of the new homes and up to date community facilities which would be provided.

Alongside a new church, which council officers said would allow for continued worship and weddings, there would be a 'new café, new community hall and 10 incubator spaces'.

Church of the Holy Family, Blackbird Leys Picture: Ed Nix

Church of the Holy Family, Blackbird Leys Picture: Ed Nix

These incubator spaces would be small offices, usually aimed at start up businesses.

The council officers who wrote the report also praised the 'efficient use' of the site by building more homes.

Drawings of the new church included with the application show a more contemporary design, with large glass windows, murals with colourful tiles, and a small tower to one end of the building.

It would link together with the community centre, cafe and homes in a quad-shaped complex of buildings.

Several organisations have objected to the demolition of the church, and have called for an important 20th building to be preserved.

ALSO READ: Oxford's English language schools still not getting enough support a year into Covid

One of these organisations, The Oxford Preservation Trust, has written to the city council to say that the cost of replacing the leaking roof and the benefits the renovation would bring to the wider community, meant that ‘exceptional circumstances’ for the church’s potential demolition had been demonstrated.

The other organisation, the Twentieth Century Society, continues to object to the demolition because of the rare roof design

The society said it is objecting to the demolition ‘in the strongest possible terms’ and claims that ‘spare land on the site’ could be developed to fund the replacement of the roof.

It added that the city council should ‘refuse’ the planning application to replace the church with a new building.

The planning committee will meet virtually at 3pm on Wednesday, April 7.