Fresh bid to alter church

Bethesda Congregational Church which could be converted to flats
Bethesda Congregational Church which could be converted to flats
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Fears have been raised a former church could become an eyesore unless the building can be redeveloped.

But any changes to the Bethesda Congregational Church on Grasmere Road, Blackpool, must be acceptable to residents living in the area, a ward councillor has warned.

In January this year, Blackpool Council threw out a previous bid to convert the building into 10 flats after 14 letters of objection were received from residents of Lune Grove and Grasmere Road.

They raised concerns about parking and said the scheme would have an impact on the privacy of existing homes.

Now developer Keith Sodhi has submitted fresh plans which are being recommended for approval when they go before Blackpool’s planning committee on Monday.

The proposals have been amended to reduce the number of flats to nine, to provide off-street parking for two vehicles, to create an outdoor amenity space and a better separation distance from the nearest house on Lune Grove.

But 10 letters of objections have been received by the council from residents who still fear there will be insufficient parking and loss of privacy.

Coun Allan Matthews, who represents Tyldesley ward, where the church is located, said: “I have not received any representations this time around from the residents.

“But previously there were concerns that other properties would be overlooked, and it is already a busy area for parking.

“These issues would need to be addressed.

“But the church is in danger of falling into a state of disrepair if nothing is done, and it could become an eyesore.”

If it goes ahead, the scheme will see the architectural features of the church, which is on the draft local list of protected heritage assets, preserved.

A report to councillors says: “Without redevelopment sooner rather than later, there is a real concern the building will continue to fall into disrepair, maybe even to a point where restoration will not be a viable option.”

It adds the building is of interest “both in terms of local heritage and its architectural features”.

The church closed its doors in October 2010 because too much work needed to be done to the building.

It was put up for sale in April 2011 after 90 years of community use.