demolition of Highbridge gospel church to go ahead
proposals to demolish a former church in Highbridge have been been
go-ahead this week despite objections from several councillors and
owner of the former Gospel Hall in Newtown Road has been told by
Sedgemoor District Council that he is free to demolish the derelict
this month, Burnham and Highbridge Town Council's Planning Applications
Committee voted to reject the demolition proposals after expressing
concern about the lack of future plans for the site.
Sedgemoor planning officer Stuart Houlet ruled this week that the
demolition can go ahead, via a General Permitted Development Order,
which grants the demolition of un-listed buildings outside of conservation
town councillor John Parkes told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "I'm more
than a little disappointed that in this instance 'consultation'
respectfully with our Council's Planning Applications Committee
seemed 'tokenistic' to say the least and could even be deemed in
cases like this as 'for information only'."
Houlet responded: "In terms of consultation there is no requirement
for consultation with the Town Council under the Regulations but
we - as we do on other Prior Approval applications - have taken
the view that we will consult out of courtesy and to allow for the
local knowledge to be fed into the process, although the determination
is within the scheme of delegation and therefore there is no recourse
to the Planning Committee."
in this case the re-use of the building and its retention on that
basis are not matters that can be considered under the Notification
Notification process is a relatively new thing - before all demolition
of unlisted buildings outside of conservation areas were just permitted
without recourse to the Planning Authority - it has been brought
in simply to deal with the effects of demolition rather than agreeing
whether the demolition should take place or not."
the process tends to just increase expectation that the local planning
authority will be able to prevent demolition despite not giving
us any powers to do so."
to a call from one local resident for the building to be given a
'building preservation notice', Mr Houlet added: "It is our
officer's professional opinion that the building would not be worthy
of listing in terms of any national importance and we can only serve
a building preservation notice where we intend to support any potential
listing. I can appreciate the frustrations but that is the position
I am afraid."
Parkes added: "I am very unhappy at the decision. Several residents
remain concerned that without future plans for the gospel hall site
being announced before demolition, the site could become an eyesore
similar to the derelict Highbridge Hotel site."