Plans to convert the roof space of a disused Pembrokeshire Baptist chapel to living accommodation have been refused.

Toby Downing, of The Vestrey, Penuel Chapel,  sought permission for the conversion of the roof space of Grade-II-listed Penuel Chapel, High Street, Cilgerran.

Work started on Penuel Chapel in 1861, designed by John Evans of Cilgerran, and was used as a place of worship up to 2009.

The chapel building has been used in the past from time to time as a village community hall, prior to the construction of a new hall funded through a grant from the Millenium commission after the year 2000.

A heritage statement – through agent Oliver Llewelyn - in support of the plans said: “The Baptist organisation which no longer has any ownership or other rights in the property has relinquished any desire to perpetuate the use of this building for worship or any other community activity, and has expressed a willingness to support an application for change of use of the chapel as well as the vestry.

“This proposal consists of the conversion of the roof space of the existing chapel building to residential use. In order to enable access to the proposed converted space it is necessary to construct a stair in a corner of the building. The new stair will be positioned so as to minimise its impact, constructed immediately above an existing stair but without its removal.

“It is a fundamental truism inherent in the preservation of any asset in human use that in order to ensure conservation into the future, it needs to continue in usefulness. It is often necessary to change the purpose of a building in order to ensure its continuing usefulness.

“Fortunately, in this case, the works anticipated, being solely to serve the needs of a single occupant, will have a very minimal impact on the appearance of the building either inside or out. There will be no need to change any aspect of the detail of the building or the fittings contained beyond the partitioning of the proposed staircase, and some modification to the internal timber roof structure. Plumbing and drainage pipework, as well as electrical wiring will be concealed in the upper floor thickness and in the vertical studwork of the stair enclosure.”

A Pembrokeshire County Council officer report, recommending refusal of listed building consent, said: “The proposed balcony is a crude intervention in what is otherwise an externally well-preserved chapel of the 1860s in the Georgian tradition.

"It is considered that the balcony proposal, which is recessed within the rear gable end, would have a negative impact on the character of the listed building. The harm is caused by the erosion of the building’s aesthetic and evidential value as a complete example of a 1860s chapel in the Georgian tradition.”

The application was refused on the grounds of the design “being harmful to the historic character and significance of the listed building”.