Plans for new Kilmington church unanimously rejected

District councillors throw out scheme for a new Baptist centre at village beauty spot

PLANS for a new Baptist Church at a Kilmington beauty spot have been turned down following massive local opposition.

East Devon councillors unanimously rejected the application to put up the new building on a greenfield site, off George Lane.

The decision came despite planning officers recommending approval to the district council’s development management committee last week

They said the development – a scaled down version of an originally rejected proposal – was considered to be of a “suitable and compatible scale commensurate with the prevailing character of the village and will provide improved facilities for the Baptist Church as well as a flexible space for other community activities and groups.”

Rev Darrell Holmes, the Baptist Pastor, said the new church and hall was needed to house a growing congregation of 80 to 90 people each Sunday, and all the activities of their lively church.

But the committee heard there was continuing strong opposition from villagers to the scale of the proposed new church which would also include meeting rooms, a 120-seater main hall and parking for some 46 cars.

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The village’s district councillor Ian Chubb warned that Kilmington already has enough provision for meetings and social events with the village hall and cricket pavilion.

He said: “To add another large hall in a village in these uncertain economic times would upset the viability of the current provision. “To suggest that it would draw an audience from further away would add more weight to the unsustainable future, with the additional key use of motor transport and the additional carbon footprint.

“The site is of high landscape quality with distinctive features, it is also sensitive to large development, rural communities are defined not only by people, buildings and facilities but also by their green spaces, and this ensures a pleasant and healthy place to live.

“The site is also unsuitable for development due its physical constraints regarding the narrow lane and its close proximity to the main A35.”

Kilmington parish council also objected, saying the development was “excessive” and the committee heard concerns about removal of trees and hedges to make way for the church and the threat to wildlife, including dormice.

Following the council decisison the church issued the following statement:

“The decision by EDDC planning committee to refuse our application will be studied prayerfully and we will also consult with the church membership over the next few weeks.

“In the interim we aim to continue to serve the community as best as we can, utilising the facilities made available to us. Our ongoing activities include youth work, a weekly toddlers group, a monthly lunch for retired people and Messy Church – a monthly after school activity for families. At the time an unfortunate fire gutted our old chapel located on Shute Road, we had a weekly Sunday attendance of 80 – 90 people. Determined to move on, plans were put underway for a replacement church building. It is our earnest hope that we shall be able to accomplish this in the foreseeable future.”