Council refuse planning permission for extension to ancient Essex church

AN ancient church will not get a modern-day extension after a deciding vote thwarted plans to bring it into the 21st century.

Plans were on the table to provide an extension to the north side of the Grade-I listed Holy Cross Church in Felsted.

But, at a meeting of Uttlesford District Council development control meeting on Wednesday, chairman Jackie Cheetham used her casting vote to veto the plans after five councillors had voted in favour and five had voted against it.

Speaking to the committee Rev Colin Taylor said: “We want the church to be used more and more, not less and less.

“We understand that any new addition to the church will affect the architecture but having the new building separate from the church, as English Hertiage suggested, would not make the congregation feel a part of the old architecture while embracing the new.”

Despite overwhelming support from the community and the parish council, who backed the proposals “100 per cent”, the application was refused.

Cllr Christina Cant described the proposed addition as “an act of vandalism” that would not give people the chance to pray in peace.

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She added that it would cause issues for big ceremonies as people would be moving in-between the new extension and the church.

Cllr Elizabeth Godwin agreed, describing the extension as a “glorified shed” and an “eyesore” that would spoil a beautiful church.

Officers had recommended the application for refusal because its “scale, form, layout, appearance and materials would represent an incongruous addition to the Grade I listed church and would result in a form of development that would have a detrimental impact on the character and setting of the listed building’.

They also suggested that the proposed parking spaces adjacent to the southern elevation of the church would detract from the intimate character of the setting of the church in this location.

Speaking after the meeting, Rev Taylor expressed his disappointment but said a lot of positives had come out of the meeting.

“It was not an outright refusal so we will go away and think clearly about what needs to be done,” he told the Broadcast.

“It is ironic that most of the aspects of the plans [the committee] disagreed with were features that we had bent over backwards to include for English Heritage, who we have been consulting from the beginning of the project.

“We have a lot of local support for the church and there is a positive community spirit in Felsted so we can move forward from here.”