CONTROVERSIAL plans to expand a church into a 400-seat auditorium have been approved.
The Locks Heath Free Church put in an application to build a new worship area to house the high increase of people who attend on a regular basis.
It will also have a new car park and activity hall to host more community events.
But, although the plans were approved by Fareham Borough Council, residents nearby are unhappy with the application.
A petition with more than 200 signatures was handed in to the council from residents living in Hunts Pond Road, Kensington Gardens and Ascot Close.
Their main concerns for the church on Hunts Pond Road were with the size of the building and the lack of parking spaces which could have a knock-on effect.
Kenneth Davey, from Hunts Pond Road, said: ‘The development is simply too big and inappropriate for the area.
‘In order to cover their costs the church will need to make maximum use of this development inevitably resulting in noise pollution in a residential area.’
Duncan McCune from Wellow Gardens agreed. He added: ‘The church is still far too big for this area, which is in the main a residential area with a dwindling amount of green space.’
But the plans for the church have been welcomed by residents and Councillor Jack Englefield.
He said the church is working for the community and the extra space will allow more people to benefit from their services.
The independent councillor for Titchfield Common said: ‘The original application was for quite a huge building but they down-scaled it and I think it’s good for the community.
‘I understand that people living in the adjacent roads have concerns on its size and the parking but I think the good it will do for the community outweighs those issues.
‘Not only will it be in use for religious reasons but it will have classes and groups for everyone to enjoy.
‘The people there just want to benefit the community.’
More than 240 people wrote into the council to support the scheme.
Tim Snow, from Craven Court, said: ‘One of the restrictions to the church doing more for the community and enabling more people to worship is the lack of space.
‘A larger building will enable more people to enjoy this friendly local church at all levels.’