Anger over new church design at gateway to Emsworth

Fundraiser Daphne laycock and minister Joel Ferreira outside Emsworth Baptist Church
Fundraiser Daphne laycock and minister Joel Ferreira outside Emsworth Baptist Church

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  • Plans turned down in 2011 for being ‘out of character’ with the area
  • Government’s planning inspector overturned council’s decision
  • Work almost complete and residents upset by design
  • Church says it will benefit community
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CRITICS have branded a new £2m church an ‘eyesore’.

Following a year of construction Emsworth Baptist Church, in North Street, is almost complete.

But as the large brown brick building has progressed people say they are upset by the design.

Some have likened it to a ‘battery hen shed’ and a say it looks more like a factory than a church because of the large metal air-conditioning vents on the top.

Minister Joel Ferreira says he has gone back to the architects to see if they can be reduced in size but that, ultimately, the church will benefit the community.

Councillors on Havant Borough Council’s planning committee turned down the application for the church on the grounds it did not fit in with the historic character of Emsworth.

But that was overturned by the planning inspector on appeal.

Ken Russell, 83, of St James Road, said: ‘I think it’s awful. And what’s ironic is this very modern building is behind the “Welcome to Historic Emsworth” sign.’

Giles Babb, chairman of Emsworth Business Association, said: ‘Although the use of the church will benefit the community, there was not enough thought put into the design.

‘It’s caused a lot of upset in Emsworth and I don’t know anybody who likes it. It was a chance to put a statement building at the gateway to Emsworth but unfortunately it’s given the wrong statement.

‘It’s out of character with historic Emsworth, and very unsympathetic to its surroundings. It’s an eyesore.’

He added: ‘It seems neither the church nor the architect listened to the people of Emsworth and they certainly did not use the guidelines set out in the Emsworth Design Statement. In a few years’ time we are going to end up with Emsworth’s version of the Tricorn Centre.’

Mr Ferreira said the church had worked hard with council planners, ahead of the meeting where the plans were rejected.

He added: ‘The vents are designed to provide adequate ventilation for a building which can accommodate 300 people. They are ecologically friendly and require no energy input, thus reducing the carbon footprint of the church.

‘However, the casings are quite prominent and the feasibility of reducing the size is currently being investigated by the building team and architect.’