Not too early, not too late - the opening and closing times a church minister claims are unfair

13:49 17 May 2014

March Evangelical Fellowship, Upwell Rd March.

March Evangelical Fellowship, Upwell Rd March.

Archant

A church has been banned from opening earlier than 8am on weekdays – and 9.30am on Sundays- for fear of upsetting the neighbours.

March Evangelical Fellowship, Upwell Rd March.March Evangelical Fellowship, Upwell Rd March.

March Evangelical Fellowship has also been told it must close by 10pm weekdays and 9.30pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

The restrictions were placed on the Upwell Road church by Fenland District Council and confirmed following an appeal to The Planning Inspectorate.

Government inspector David Spencer said if the times were extended it would “result in undue harm to the living conditions of neighbouring occupiers by virtue of noise and disturbance”.

Pastor Dennis Jordan complained that no other church in March was subject to the same restrictions on hours of use.

March Evangelical Fellowship, Upwell Rd March.March Evangelical Fellowship, Upwell Rd March.

But Mr Spencer said he had “assessed this appeal on its own merits and in light of representations made”.

The church, which consists of four mobile buildings linked by covered walkways, holds events ranging from mums and tots groups, prayer meetings, a men’s group and coffee mornings.

Retrospective planning permission was granted by Fenland District Council which had the time limited constraint attached to it “in the interests of the amenities of neighbouring dwellings”.

Pastor Jordan appealed the conditions as he did not think they were “reasonable” or “necessary”.

Fenland’s environmental health officer has not objected on grounds of noise but since permission was given complaints of “early morning activities” at the centre have been made by the next door neighbours.

Mr Spencer said: “Unrestricted hours would enable the building to be used during unsociable hours, including increased vehicular activity on a gravel car park and human activity in the car park, around the main entrance and within the temporary buildings.”

“The noise and disturbance at these times would not be sufficiently mitigated by background traffic in Upwell Road or the structural qualities of the buildings on the site.”

The inspector said he shared the council’s view that the present condition “strikes an appropriate balance between the needs of the centre and maintaining local residential amenity”.

His report says the main complaint about “early morning activities at the centre” came from people living nearby in a newly built house.

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