Gospel church falls short of requirements for a new community facility

A proposal to establish a new gospel church in commercial premises outside an inner London borough town centre failed when an inspector found that it was poorly located and would fail to include the local community.

Council policy prioritised town and local centre sites for the location of community facilities, but allowed an exception where a cluster with other community facilities would together create a recognisable hub serving localised needs. In this respect, the inspector found that only 60 per cent of the congregation were resident in the borough, falling below the 67 per cent threshold set by policy for demonstrating a local need, with the remainder scattered across northeast London. He concluded the church contravened local plan and London plan policies aimed at enhancing social infrastructure in locations maximising equal opportunity and access.

The inspector also had concerns the church would not integrate well with the local community. He noted the appellant considered it inappropriate and disrespectful that the church would need to accommodate groups outside of the same faith in order to comply with policy seeking an inclusive approach to new community facilities. The use of reflective windows to prevent views in would, in his opinion, appear unwelcoming and serve to separate the church off from the public realm on a busy pedestrian route, as well as having a negative impact on the appearance of the area. Noise impacts on neighbouring residents were a further concern. The inspector dismissed the appeal.

Inspector: Andre Pinto; Written representations

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