Bid to turn Gosport church into flats as new owner reveals plan

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A CHURCH is set to be turned into flats in Gosport.

New owners of the Baptist Church in Stoke Road want to knock down part of its hall and convert the 104-year-old building into eight flats.

It has stood empty since its congregation moved to Cooperage Green in Royal Clarence Marina in 2011.

Reverend George Bexon said the church has moved into its second building in Cooperage Green at the yard and hopes to move again into a permanent home soon.

He said: ‘We were happy with the sale of the building.

‘We moved to Cooperage Green three years ago.

‘We’re wanting to purchase a permanent building on the site.

‘We’re a growing congregation.’

The church was put up for sale in 2011 and two attempts to sell it at auction were made in 2013.

The first saw a reserve price of £140,000 to £160,000 and failed, as did the second.

But it was bought for £105,000 after the auction in August 2013 by Sophie Curtis Property Ltd based in Hove, East Sussex.

The firm wants to demolish the rear hall, which it says was more recently built, of ‘little merit’, suffers from extensive dry rot and is cracking up.

If approved, there will be three one-bedroom flats an five two-bedroom flats.

The church is within the Stoke Road conservation area and the firm says the conversion of the main church will keep all the original external features.

As part of the development the outside of the existing building will be renovated and cleaned.

Ward councillor Richard Dickson said extra homes are needed across the borough.

He said: ‘My view is that we have got to move with the times.

‘There’s a desperate need for accommodation.

‘We have a duty of care in my opinion to take early opportunity to provide homes.’

Cllr Dickson added that putting homes in already-developed areas is better than building on green sites.

He added: ‘We shouldn’t be building on green field sites, it’s a good use of an area.

‘Anyone living there has a lot on their doorstep.’

The plans are due to be decided by Gosport Borough Council by June 3.

The church was initially up for sale at £260,000 in 2010 before the extent of the dry rot was discovered.