Parking worries halt flats plan for church

Bethesda Congregational Church in Grasmere Road, Blackpool.
Bethesda Congregational Church in Grasmere Road, Blackpool.
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A BID to convert a church into flats has been thrown out by councillors after residents warned the development would increase pressure on parking in the surrounding streets.

Blackpool Council’s planning committee turned down an application by Keith Sodhi to redevelop the Bethesda Congregational Church on Grasmere Road as 10 flats.

The church was put up for sale in April 2011 after it was found the building needed repairs estimated at £152,000.

The scheme sought to retain some of the original features of the building while installing three mezzanine floors, but no off-street parking was offered in the plans.

Fourteen letters of objection were received by the council from residents of Lune Grove and Grasmere Road, who said there would be insufficient parking in an already busy area.

Karla Parsons, of Lune Grove, told the committee: “This is going to affect all my neighbours because we already have a major issue with parking in Lune Grove.

“We have the primary school across the road, and people park here when the football is on, so it is already a problem.”

The mum-of-two said she was also concerned the development would impact on her home’s privacy.

Tyldesley ward councillor Coun Eddie Collett, who also spoke on behalf of residents, said although a residents-only parking scheme had been proposed, this would not necessarily ease the situation.

He said: “The biggest objection is on parking.

“The streets are already very over-crowded on occasion.”

A report to the committee said the church was unlikely to open again as a community facility, and residential conversion was the only probable option.

The church had also suffered vandalism since closing down after 90 years of community use.

Planning officers had recommended the committee be mindful to approve the application and then defer it for legal agreements to be finalised.

But councillors voted to turn down the application.

After the meeting, committee chairman Coun David Owen said: “The feeling was there was probably too many apartments proposed for the site and there was concern about the impact on local amenities.

“There was no provision for car parking.”

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