Bid to turn barn into gospel hall rejected

Wednesday, 21st April 2021

A CHRISTIAN fellowship’s bid to convert a barn into a gospel hall has been turned down by Lichfield councillors.

More than 100 people objected to the change of use proposal put forward for the barn at Oak Tree Farm, Drayton Bassett.

Concerns included traffic and noise, as well as the level of activity that would take place at the Plymouth Brethren’s gospel hall including services starting as early as 5.15am on Sundays.

But supporters of the scheme said it would enhance the local area and allow existing buildings to be reused, as well as reducing travel time for congregation members which would make a huge difference to carbon emissions.

Lichfield District Council’s planning committee has twice deferred its decision on the proposals to allow further details to be considered.

On Monday the application returned to the committee a third time, where it was refused permission because it was not considered by members to comply with council planning policies.

Council planning officers had recommended the application for approval however, subject to a number of conditions.

These included limiting the times services could take place to between 5pm and 9.30pm Monday to Friday, 7.30am to 1pm on Saturdays and 5.15am to 6pm on Sundays. Another condition proposed limiting the number of weddings and funerals that could take place at the gospel hall to six per year, between 10am and 3pm Monday to Friday, with no more than 150 attendees or guests.

Committee member Councillor Diane Evans said:

“For funerals it’s somewhat unfair to restrict attendance. In normal times people who want to attend a funeral want to because they have a connection to the people concerned.

“As a condition it is going to be virtually impossible to do anything about – it’s not going to be practical. I would like to know why it is there, we don’t have it for any other place of worship.”

Councillor David Leytham said: 

“I think a lot of objections from the village are because people are unsure about the people coming to worship in their small community. There are no more than 50,000 Plymouth Brethren in the world, I don’t think weddings and funerals are going to be a problem there.”