Church withdraws from controversial property purchase

Church withdraws from controversial property purchase

By staff writers
28 Feb 2006

Church withdraws from controversial property purchase

-28/02/06

The Commissioners of the Church of England, responsible for over £4 billion of investments, have withdrawn from a controversial £2.5 million house purchase for the next Bishop of Oxford.

The property in Headington, Oxford was being targeted by the Church to house the successor to the Rt Rev Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford, who retires this year.

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A Labour MP however was amongst those who raised questions about the purchase, when he suggested in the House of Commons that some might see the purchase as a case of double standards.

Chris Bryant MP, who is himself ordained and a former Chair of the Christian Socialist Movement pointed out that the planned purchase came whilst the Commissioners simultaneously sold off property in South London which campaigners said will make deprived tenants homeless.

Other Bishops have also made moves to downsize from their large palaces.

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, announced plans to move to more modest accommodation, after he felt impelled by the gospel to quit Bishop Mount, his six-bedroom Victorian house in Ripon.

Others such as the Bishop of Durham the Rt Rev Tom Wright, who inhabits Auckland Castle, have however defended their 'right' to live in palaces.

The search for a property "with the potential to be a suitable new house for the next Bishop of Oxford" is now to continue.

A statement from the Church of England said that the Commissioners had decided to withdraw from the purchase of Pullens End, in Headington, Oxford.

"The Commissionersí offer was made subject to contract. Legal enquiries have revealed restrictive covenants on the title that could prevent the house being used to the fullest extent as a Bishopís house" a statement said.

The Commissioners of the Church of England, responsible for over £4 billion of investments, have withdrawn from a controversial £2.5 million house purchase for the next Bishop of Oxford.

The property in Headington, Oxford was being targeted by the Church to house the successor to the Rt Rev Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford, who retires this year.

A Labour MP however was amongst those who raised questions about the purchase, when he suggested in the House of Commons that some might see the purchase as a case of double standards.

Chris Bryant MP, who is himself ordained and a former Chair of the Christian Socialist Movement pointed out that the planned purchase came whilst the Commissioners simultaneously sold off property in South London which campaigners said will make deprived tenants homeless.

Other Bishops have also made moves to downsize from their large palaces.

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, announced plans to move to more modest accommodation, after he felt impelled by the gospel to quit Bishop Mount, his six-bedroom Victorian house in Ripon.

Others such as the Bishop of Durham the Rt Rev Tom Wright, who inhabits Auckland Castle, have however defended their 'right' to live in palaces.

The search for a property "with the potential to be a suitable new house for the next Bishop of Oxford" is now to continue.

A statement from the Church of England said that the Commissioners had decided to withdraw from the purchase of Pullens End, in Headington, Oxford.

"The Commissioners' offer was made subject to contract. Legal enquiries have revealed restrictive covenants on the title that could prevent the house being used to the fullest extent as a Bishop's house" a statement said.

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