The Archdiocese of Liverpool has given an empty parish church to a pioneering housing charity.
Housing People, Building Communities (HPBC) offers buyers a £10,000 discount in exchange for labour on their own homes.
HPBC is now re-developing St William’s church in Ince. Built in 1911, the Gothic red-brick lancet Church in Wigan has not been used for liturgical purposes since 2017.
St William’s church is going to be converted into 10 houses and flats in a style that conserves the building’s original architectural features.
Three two-bedroom houses and six flats will be built on the site, where the presbytery will also be redeveloped as housing, providing three-bedroom family homes.
Potential buyers are encouraged to help build their own property, using “sweat equity”. In exchange for 500 hours helping build their home, they can receive a £10,000 discount on the price of the property.
The award-winning charity has already used this model to redevelop a second Liverpool church into community housing.
St Bernard’s parish in Toxteth, built in 1901, had fallen into disrepair before re-development. Owners of the 16 properties on the site met their future neighbours while helping to clear out the Church and on “team build” days.
Some asked parents, siblings or friends to help them contribute the 500 hours of labour.
The chairperson and founder of HPBC is the Anglican priest, the Reverend Shannon Ledbetter.
The Cross-bench peer Lord Alton of Liverpool is a patron of the charity, alongside Gideon Ben-Tovim, a former chair of the Liverpool Primary Care Trust.
HPBC is a non-profit organisation.