Christian church that takes Bible as 'infallible' word of God withdraws plans for new place of worship in Northamptonshire

Plans to build a new place of worship in a Northamptonshire village have been withdrawn by the conservative Christian church applicants.

Tuesday, 12th March 2019, 3:27 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th March 2019, 4:30 pm
The proposed new worship place would look like this recently built Plymouth Brethren church in Stow-on-the-Wold

A new home for a branch of the Plymouth Brethren gospel congregation had been earmarked for the Red House Farm site just off the B4525 in the village of Syresham, near Brackley.

The church, which regards the Bible as the ‘infallible word of God’ and treats the literature as its highest doctrine, has been looking for years for an alternative site to its current home in Fox Lane, in Brackley. In its planning statement, it said the venue could ‘no longer accommodate the existing use of the building and land as a place of religious worship’.

The proposals would have seen an existing care home, the Red House Nursing Home, demolished to make way for the new meeting place.

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The existing site at Red House Farm includes a nursing home

But objectors to the scheme, including the local parish council and more than 50 residents who signed a petition, learned at South Northamptonshire Council’s planning meeting on Thursday (March 7) that the application had been withdrawn three days earlier by applicants Unistruct Ltd.

The Brethren, which believes that women should pray with covered heads to avoid 'shame', finally settled on Syresham after dismissing other sites in Tingewick, Evenley, Banbury, Helmdon, Middleton Cheney, Brackley, Greatworth and Turweston.

The new place of worship would not have acted as a community facility though, instead being locked up when not used for meetings of the Gospel Trust. The congregation would travel from as far away as Rushden, Banbury and Buckingham for regular weekly meetings and three ‘assemblies’ on Sundays, including one at 6am.

But planning officers at South Northamptonshire Council were not persuaded that the planning benefits of relocating from the existing site were significant enough to outweigh the conflict in this case.

Case officer Tom Ansell wrote: “The development would likely cause unacceptable harm to the amenities of existing and future occupiers of Red House Farm. This harm would come about through the increase in both pedestrian and vehicular noises that would be a direct result of the site transforming from a relatively quiet nursing home with little risk of intense use to a much more substantial place of gathering and activity which is demonstrably used much more intensively.”

A petition with 58 signatures from residents had also been received, objecting on the basis of the intensity of the development, design and appearance, highway matters, loss of privacy and control of pollution and noise.

Syresham Parish Council had also objected on the basis of the impact that the additional traffic caused by the development would have on the B4525 and Pimlico junction, as well as the appearance of the building relative to its location.

It is not yet clear why the applicants withdrew the application, and whether an updated version of the application could return to the planning committee at a later date.

The agents acting on behalf of the applicants have been approached for comment.