Church group to buy heritage synagogue

By Robyn Rosen, July 22, 2010

The former Greenbank Drive Synagogue in Liverpool is to be turned into a church, after a failed attempt to convert it into Jewish community housing.

Founded in 1937, the synagogue closed in January 2008 because of dwindling membership and £70,000 debts.

The building was upgraded to Grade II* listed status after the Twentieth Century Society, campaigning to preserve architectural heritage, opposed plans by the Merseyside Jewish Housing Association to convert it into sheltered accommodation.

Former shul president Alan Tinger, chairman of Merseyside Jewish Housing Association, would not disclose the name of the buyer but said that negotiations were continuing, as well as with English Heritage and Liverpool City Council. The aim was “to agree what changes the church group can make to the seating etcetera that are in keeping with the listing and also the substantial repairs they need to undertake to enable Liverpool City Council to extend the lease on the premises.

“The roof has to be preserved, as well as other parts, so you can’t do anything with it with other than a church or conference centre. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s going to a group of people who will look after it.”

An English Heritage spokeswoman welcomed the plan. “English Heritage is providing advice and support to the remaining trustees of the synagogue in their search for a new use of the building. If there was potential to reintroduce worship, this would require few changes to the interior of the building, which is of high architectural value.”

Last updated: 5:49pm, July 28 2010