Elected members on Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council have backed a move calling for a church in the region to be given listed status.
Straid Congregational Church had faced demolition on Saturday, January 6, with the council serving a temporary Building Preservation Notice on the building that day after protesters had gathered at the site.
Residents became aware of the plans to demolish the church, which was built in 1816, on the evening of Friday, January 5.
A spokesperson for the Friends of Straid Facebook page said: “Villagers, the church is being stripped of all its history as I write, ready for demolition tomorrow (January 6).
“Internal furniture pews etc are being removed. This is being done without any consultation or statutory approvals in place.”
During the full council meeting on Monday, January 29, members moved to support the proposed listing of the church, after the council’s Planning Committee had initially voted in favour of the proposal.
Commenting on the issue, a council spokesperson said: “At the Planning Committee meeting on Monday, January 22, it was agreed that the council should provide a corporate view in support of the proposed listing of Straid Congregational Church by the Historic Environment Division of the Department for Communities (DfC).
“This decision was ratified at the full council meeting on January 29. All decisions taken by council are subject to a three-day call-in period following the meeting.”
The spokesperson for the local authority added: “If no call-in is received, then the council will write to DfC confirming its support for the proposed listing of Straid Congregational Church as a building of special architectural or historic interest.
“The final decision regarding the inclusion of the church on the list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest rests with the DfC.”