PLANS to demolish Watlington’s church hall and build two new houses in its place have suffered another
PLANS to demolish Watlington’s church hall and build two new houses in its place have suffered another setback.
South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committeeÂ was expected to make a decision on the planning application last week following a site visit but deferred in order to obtain more financial information.
The committee had been recommended to grant consent subject to a legal agreement that money generated from the development would be spent on the upkeep and improvement of St Leonard’s Church.
Any income from disposal of the land would be added to the permanent endowment of the Maria Cook Trust to be used for the upkeep of the church. The trust owns land adjoining St Leonard’s.
The church wants to replace the hall in Pyrton Lane with a five-bedroom house and new rectory.
The new house and existing rectory in Hill Road would then be sold to pay for an extension to the church.
The church says the development is essential in order to secure its future but the issue has divided the town, causing months of delays due to revisions of the plans.
Critics say the development would be too large and could set a precedent for building in an open recreation area.
Watlington Church Hall Concern says the hall is well used and should simply be rebuilt.
Watlington Parish Council has objected to two sets of plans. The original plans received 25 letters of objection and the same number in support, while the revised scheme resulted in nine objections and 15 letters of support.
The church says the sustainability of St Leonard’s relies on the development as it costs £1,200 a week to keep the building open.
Planning permission for a £150,000 church extension was granted in 2012.