An alternative use is being sought for a Craven church which has officially closed its doors.

A consultation will be held in High Bentham following the permanent closure of St Margaret’s Parish Church, which was shut temporarily two years ago on the grounds of health and safety.

“It is a real shame,” said the Rev Stephen Dawson.

“But hopefully people will realise they need to become involved if they want their local church to stay open.”

The Grade II listed building, run by the Diocese of Bradford, was first reported as in danger of closure in 2010.

In 2011 the decision was taken that it would be shut for safety reasons, with a new roof, new organ, disability access and emergency work on the tower all needed.

A community appeal failed to raise enough cash for the work.

A new group, the Friends of St Margaret’s Church, was set up in a bid to stave off closure, but its hopes have been dashed by the church commissioners, who ruled earlier this month that the church should close for good.

“We stated our case and made pleas for the church to reopen but we were unfortunately unsuccessful,” said Friends secretary Allan Hartley. “We do not know what will happen to the church because it is a listed building and it is now up to the Church of England to decide what to do with it.”

The Archdeacon of Craven, the Ven Paul Slater, said: “It is sad to see the church close as many people have deep-seated attachments to buildings such as St Margaret's where life events have taken place.”

He added that ideas for the future use of the church building would now be welcomed.

“We hope and pray that the whole community of Bentham will be able to embrace St John's, Bentham, as its parish church.”