A much used church in Truro and a well known city building is to close because it will cost £1 million to make it safe.

The news that St Paul's Church will shut its doors "within the next few months" was given to the congregation on Sunday by priest in charge Father Christopher Epps.

For the past two years, officials at the church have been struggling to come to terms with the problems facing the building. Two years ago a plan to redevelop the crypt for church and community use was scuppered.

What started out as an exciting and vibrant project ended with the revelation that the tower and the whole east end of the church was in a dangerous, precarious and dilapidated state, said Mr Epps.

The tower, constructed of poor quality Polyphant stone, was deemed to be in such a dangerous condition that access to the underlying crypt was immediately restricted as was access to the whole exterior east end of the church.

The quinquennial report - an inspection which is required to be done on all parish churches every five years - revealed so many other serious structural problems relating to the whole east end of the building that they were considered then to be insurmountable.

Since then Church officials, and their architect, Mr David Scott, have been working closely with English Heritage to explore ways in which the congregation might address the costly problems in the longer term.

English Heritage has recently offered a generous grant towards investigative work on the stonework of the tower which required the Church Council to make a substantial financial contribution.

St. Paul's Church like all Anglican churches, relies entirely on the giving of the regular worshippers to sustain its work.

Now, following much heart searching and consideration by the members of the Parochial Church Council it was felt to be immoral, irresponsible and inappropriate to expend considerable sums of money, generously given for the work of the church, on the fabric of a building that was clearly irreparable'. # Estimates for major works on the tower and east end have ranged from £500,000 to £1m. But whatever the figure, it is considered far beyond the means of the Church and wider community.

A critical phase has now been reached and the overriding consideration of the PCC has to be the health and safety of worshippers, visitors and passers by. Such is the extent of erosion and deterioration of the stonework of the tower that the Church's insurers, Ecclesiastical, following a recent inspection, have reckoned that it poses potentially a very real danger to the public. In assessing the risk the tower, in particular, poses, given its nearness to Tregolls Road and the pavement that runs alongside, they have indicated that if no further work is scheduled to address the structural defects, then Public Liability Insurance cover will have to be withdrawn. Potentially, therefore, St. Paul's Church may close for public worship within a period of six months.

"This is obviously a very distressing time for all who are associated with St. Paul's especially those who have worshipped at St. Paul's for many years. In the immediate short term the Christian community at St. Paul's will be considering all possible options including alternative places to worship," said a church official.

Over the next two months there will be a period of consultation particularly regarding what those options might be, in the meantime Mr Epps, who is also Priest in Charge of three other Truro Churches - St George's, St John's and St Clement's - said: "We have a good, active worshipping community here at St Paul's, and we all know there is much to be done by the Christian Churches throughout the city. I am very hopeful that this closure, which now cannot be avoided, will result in new opportunities for us all."