10:20am Wednesday 28th March 2012
CAMPAIGNERS have had their prayers answered after a plan to redevelop an historic church for housing was blocked for the third time.
Victory Gospel Church wanted to demolish half of North Baddesley Gospel Church and build three homes.
But amid heated opposition from villagers, borough planning chiefs threw out the latest scheme because of too few parking spaces.
Speaking afterwards, North Baddesley ward member Celia Dowden said: “I think it was the right thing to refuse it because what they were proposing would have caused a tremendous problem on the roads.
“Villagers also want it to remain for community use.”
Victory Gospel Church congregation have moved out to the former Mecca Bingo Hall in Portswood, Southampton, and want to gain planning permission to redevelop the church after finding no-one to take it on.
But the family of William Smith who built it in 1887, dispute the ownership and claim his will declared it should always belong to the community.
One of them, 75-year-old villager Mary Callow, said: “It was built for the community and belongs to the village and they built it up over the last 100 years.” Another descendant and villager Ray Cobern, 80, said he was pleased about by the result and added: “In my opinion it (the church) is not theirs”
In September southern area planning committee unanimously rebuffed a bid to sweep away the whole of the church for five homes because it was out of character for the village.
This came amid heated opposition from villagers concerned about losing a community amenity.
Developer Gale Homes then returned with a revised plan for three detached houses at back on Street End, while keeping the front section.
Again southern area committee backed villagers campaigning to keep the building.
But the final decision was passed to the borough’s planning control committee as the committee went against officers’ advice.
Members then agreed with the council highway officer’s view that the plan needed seven more parking spaces to avoid parking chaos on Nutburn Road.
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