Church's £3.5m plans for new building in Christchurch town centre are thrown out by council
CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new church in Christchurch have been unanimously refused by BCP Council.
Members of its planning committee threw out Christchurch Baptist Church’s plans to redevelop 51 Bargates for a new church centre to meet increasing demand, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
The church said the increasing size of its congregation meant it needed to expand beyond its existing building to “serve the needs of future generations”.
The scheme had been supported by Christchurch Town Council and BCP Council town centre ward councillor Mike Cox.
But the application attracted significant opposition from those living nearby.
Becky Myers, who lives in Beaconsfield Road, said there were “constant” parking and noise issues in the area caused by the church and its “disrespectful” parishioners, and criticised the design of its “gargantuan” new proposal.
“The new church is ugly and neither resembles a church nor fits in with the local character of the Victorian properties in Beaconsfield Road,” a statement read out on her behalf at the BCP Council planning committee meeting said.
“Who would’ve thought when I moved in that my problem neighbours would be the church at the end of the road?
“I loved the idea of having a church at the end of my road when I moved in but due to the issues the selfish and uncaring parishioners present, it has been an expensive lesson learned.”
Cllr Peter Hall, a committee member and Christchurch town centre ward councillor, said he was concerned both by the design of the proposed church and potential traffic issues it would create.
“I’ve had countless residents contact me who strongly object to this large, dominant building – especially with it being in the town centre conservation area,” he said.
“The scale, design and mass would cause significant harm to the character of the area and another big problem is that the police station development will lead to the loss of more than 200 parking spaces.”
Following a recommendation to refuse planning permission by BCP planning officers, Cllr Hall proposed this be accepted that and was supported unanimously by the rest of the committee.