Abandoned church is '˜an accident waiting to happen'

A derelict church has been targeted by vandals in a string of recent attacks, prompting residents to speak out.

Thursday, 28th July 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 8:36 pm
Nash Mills Methodist Church, Barnacres Road

The former Nash Mills Methodist Church in Barnacres Road, Hemel Hempstead, has been closed for nearly a decade.

But the site has since fallen into disrepair, becoming the target of break-ins and suspected arsons in recent years.

The latest incidents were on Sunday, July 24, when emergency services were called out to a suspected arson at 12.40pm, before further reports of a gathering of youths on the church roof at 5pm.

The hole where trespassers are getting in to Nash Mills Methodist Church, Barnacres Road

The fire was extinguished and the site made safe, but locals say the building is an 
accident waiting to happen.

A nearby resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It’s a problem that simply can’t be ignored anymore, especially now the summer holidays are upon us.

“A child will be seriously injured or worse if something isn’t done ASAP. It’s an accident waiting to happen.

“Apparently the council keep boarding it up but they need to knock the damn thing down. It’s been derelict for years.”

The hole where trespassers are getting in to Nash Mills Methodist Church, Barnacres Road

It is believed the site is owned by the Quwwatul Islam Mosque on St Albans Hill.

In 2014, the BNP protested against speculative plans to build a mosque on the former church site, but it has been silent ever since.

Theis paper made numerous attempts to contact the mosque but was unable to speak to anyone before going to press.

The Gazette also made enquiries to Dacorum Borough Council regarding the closure of the church, the subsequent sale of the site and the repeated work to board up the building 
but the authority was unable to confirm when this happened.

A spokesman said: “We have very few reports of anti-social behaviour at this site – the last was in April.”

However, Herts Police have noticed a spike in call-outs to the site in Bennetts End, saying: “There have been a number of calls to the location in recent months reporting groups of people gathering, possible criminal damage, and we are currently investigating an incident of arson.”

A planning application for permanent fencing around the site has been put forward to Dacorum Borough Council and a decision was due to be made this month.