The CofE wants the properties to remain in the hands of the Church.
The Cathedrals Working Group (CWG) authored a report urging the General Synod, the governing body of Church of England (CofE), to pass a brand-new law which will explicitly state that any landmark facing the specter of insolvency must not be put on the market. The document further stated that the legislation must clarify that any cathedral which cannot pay its debts could enter into Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA). This CVA refers to an agreement where a party consents to pay its creditors all or part of owed cash during a specific period of time. The General Synod is the church parliament.
Leaders of the CofE are afraid that the bankruptcy courts may order a cathedral firesale if its chapter and dean are unable to pay the accrued bills. The CofE has a total of 42 cathedrals. A substantial number have cultural, historic, and architectural importance. The synod was set to receive a comprehensive report on this particular matter today. As per the report, the Peterborough and Exeter cathedrals now face serious financial crunches. One cathedral, Bradford, was near to inking a legal agreement with creditors at the turn of the century.
The financial crunch has forced a few cathedrals to levy entrance fees. Visitors to Exeter must pay about seven pounds to gain entrance into the historic structure. Even this money was insufficient to cover all staff and building expenses. An inquiry made by the church in 2016 revealed that the Exeter Cathedral required approximately £1.5 million pounds every year for its proper upkeep. The inquiry at that time also leads to the realization that the finances of the church were in dire shape.
Bankrupt cathedrals may be sold by failing C of E. Should not the pre-💛Reformation Cathedrals Be returned to the Catholic Church from whom they were ‘liberated’? (You can keep Bradford). https://t.co/FBNVypS3GS
— Gavin Ashenden (@gavinashenden) July 6, 2018
For the CofE, the gunpoint sale of any cathedral is a nightmare come true. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, along with other church members, are afraid that the sold off cathedral will be used for secular activities like a conference center or a restaurant. It is to be noted that most of these cathedrals are located in prime urban areas- a goldmine for property developers. The latter will acquire these churches and convert them to high-end residential properties prior to resale. The worst-case scenario is of a church being purchased by another faith group and then converted into a place of piety of other than Christianity. No wonder the CWG asked the CofE to start talks with the UK Government about state funding for these historic structures.