PLANS to convert a disused chapel into two affordable flats, as part of a national pilot to find other uses for abandoned chapels, have been approved.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Planning Committee approved plans to convert Bainbridge Chapel in Bainbridge into affordable family homes for people‘local’ to the area.

The two-storey chapel laid dormant when it was closed in 2017, following a dramatic decrease in the number of members able to keep it open.

Spurred on from the nationwide pilot for chapel owners to "explore all alternatives", before a decision to sell them off to developers, the Yorkshire Dales Methodist Circuit applied to the council for permission to convert Bainbridge Chapel.

Julie Greenslade, circuit administrator, said: “Circuits are now being advised by the national connexional property team to explore all opportunities for chapels before selling them off, including low cost community housing.”

Once built, the circuit said it would allocate the accommodation to those in affordable housing need, in partnership with Richmondshire District Council..

Amanda Madden, rural housing enabler at Richmondshire District Council, said: "This is a national pilot for the Methodist Church in Great Britain. The North Yorkshire Dales circuit have sold a chapel a year for each of the past seven years, but now they’ve realised the chapels could be used for community-led housing.

"The scheme in Bainbridge is being delivered and driven by the local community, following a feasibility study in the parish.”

Jim Munday, member champion for development management at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: “The lovely thing here is that the Church will be managing the scheme in the future – it shows an enlightened approach to surplus chapel buildings and is a socially responsible thing to do."

Mr Munday said the authority would welcome future applications of chapels been converted for community-led use.