PLANS to replace the ‘prison-like’ entrance doors at St Helen’s Church, Witton, are being considered by Cheshire West and Chester Council.

The proposal, lodged in March, relates to the south porch and aims to provide an ‘improved, accessible and welcoming entrance’ to the grade-I listed, 14th century church.

While the existing outer doors would be retained and refurbished, the inner doors would be removed and replaced by new glass doors.

A heritage statement said the doors were good quality but ‘unremarkable’ replacements, having been put in in the late 19th century at the same time as the porch joinery and roof structure.

Northwich Guardian:

The statement said: “We would suggest that the doors provide little potential for new knowledge. Together with the doors which are to be retained they are part of the narrative of the past, being nineteenth century works of replacement.

“Aesthetically they are nineteenth century interpretations of late medieval gothic work, but they are disliked by many users of the building as being exclusive and forbidding.

“Specifically, many members of the local community are deterred from entering the building by the character of the doors, which has been described as prison-like.

Northwich Guardian:

“The purpose of replacing the inner doors with fully-glazed doors is to provide an open and welcoming character which we feel will encourage non-churched members of the local community to feel welcomed rather than intimidated.”

The refurbished entrance porch would also include new bench seating and lighting, as well as enhanced natural lighting and noticeboards.