December 9 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
A businessman has been given permission to turn a redundant village church into a workroom and offices.
Neil Tuckey’s application to Fenland District Council to convert The Methodist Church, on North Green, Coates, into the base for Blinds in Harmony Ltd, which manufactures curtains and roller blinds, was approved on Wednesday.
Officers recommended the plan for refusal since they said it would threaten Coates’ heritage but FDC’s Planning Committee decided in favour of it to show they are supportive of business.
The family business, which has been running for 15 years, has a showroom and shop in Whittlesey but Mr Tuckey says they have outgrown the premises and need to transfer the business to the church.
No external changes are proposed to the church but they plan to change the timber floor inside the chapel to a concrete one.
Stephen Hodson, Mr Tuckey’s agent, said: “No harm will be caused by our client’s proposal.
“It is putting a redundant building into a sound non-invasive commercial use which will help maintain the building in a good state of repair.”
The proposal received a mixed response from Coates residents.
Two letters of objection raised concerns about traffic and parking and argued the church should not be put into commercial use since “it is a wonderful green which is the pride of this village”.
But a letter backing the proposal said it would be “pleasing to see a building of historical value retain a modern use when it is no longer required as a place of worship”.
Officers acknowledged the plan’s potential economic benefits but felt it would negatively impact on the character of the village.
The report to the committee said: “The potential re-use of the building along with the economic and employment benefits are noted.
“But it is considered that the adverse impact upon the character and setting of this important open space, which plays a significant role in the historic and current character of Coates, would outweigh the benefits.”