PLANS have been submitted to install CCTV cameras and security fencing at a church plagued by vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

The application, for St Cuthbert’s Church, Heaton, is seeking permission to install the security fencing to the main Wilmer Road frontage and CCTV cameras to the Grade II*-listed church, the Grade II-listed presbytery, and the church hall.

The application outlines why the work is vital for the historic building.

It says: “The church, presbytery and church hall have suffered from vandalism and anti-social behaviour for many years with copings to walls and steps having been destroyed and the car park between the church and the church hall is regularly used by local youths for drinking and drug taking.

“This is not a situation that is unique to St Cuthbert’s and similar situations have affected many places of worship nationally across all denominations.

“Home Office figures show that hate crime offences in England and Wales have been rising steadily over the past six years, with approximately 7,500 religiously-motivated incidents having been reported in 2019.

“With this in mind, in 2016 central government instigated the Places of Worship Protective Security Fund to attempt to improve the security of these buildings.

“The Catholic Diocese of Leeds has been successful in obtaining grant funding from the fund to undertake security work at St Cuthberts Church, which will include the installation of new security fencing to the Wilmer Road frontage and for the installation of CCTV to both the church and the presbytery.”

The application documents state that the “height of the fencing has been limited to 2.0m to strike a balance between providing a reasonable level of security whilst still making the building appear to be welcoming”.

They add: “Fixings for the cameras will be made into holes formed in the mortar joints wherever possible to minimise the number of fixings made into the stone however, fixings into the stone cannot be completely avoided.

“The cameras will be installed to minimise the impact on important architectural elements such as mouldings and details and wherever possible, cameras will be installed on plain wall surfaces.”

The application adds: “As noted by Historic England, older buildings are part of our evolving cultural heritage and reflect the nature and history both of the people who created them and those who followed.

“The proposals put forward in this application will impact on the appearance of the buildings but the impact is considered to be minimal when set against their long-term benefits, as the damage caused by wanton vandalism will be substantially reduced.”