Opposition to plan of Devizes church extension
6:00pm Friday 18th October 2013 in Latest News
Plans to build a community venue at St Mary’s Church in Devizes are likely to fall through after they were recommended for refusal by Wiltshire Council.
The parochial church council in charge of the building had hoped to create a cloister extension for the facility.
Wiltshire Council’s eastern area planning committee is due to discuss the plans to expand the Grade I listed Norman church next Thursday but objections from English Heritage and the council’s own conservation officer have made its success doubtful.
The plan is to construct a semi-circular extension to the west side of the church to provide an office, two meeting rooms, kitchen, toilet facilities, stores, a plant room and a vestry.
The PCC said this is vital to its plans to create a community venue at the redundant church, which will still be able to be used for services.
English Heritage said: “While the endeavours by the congregation and community to increase the use of the church is fully commended, it is not possible to support the scheme due to the substantial harm it will have on the significance of the church and its tower, its surroundings and on the conservation area.”
One of the letters of support received by Wiltshire Council said: “At present, many people in Devizes are not even aware of the church, standing there neglected and hidden behind what can only be called the ugly buildings of the sheltered housing.
“Opening up the entrance will heighten the profile of the church while in no way hindering what remains of its lovely aspect.
“It is part of our heritage in the town, and it would be criminal if we allowed the building to decline through lack of use.”
But planning officers’ comments may result in the scheme being thrown out.
Their report said: “The impact of the proposal is increased as a result of the chosen build form, which encloses a large open courtyard area and exacerbates the apparent bulk of the extension. From outside, this would give the impression of more accommodation being provided than is actually proposed.”
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