‘Church converted into flats is better than empty site’

Portsmouth MP flies out to storm-hit islands on first trip as development secretary

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IT’S sad to see a disused church turned into flats but better than having an empty building.

That’s the verdict of councillors in Gosport on the baptist church in Stoke Road, which will be converted into eight flats.

At last night’s Regulatory Board meeting, it was decided that the site would be better put to use than left derelict.

Councillor Dennis Wright said: ‘We have seen throughout the borough the decline in the use of churches and public houses.

‘It’s difficult to see anyone using them in the future.

‘Rather than them lie in disrepair, the owners of this particular church have come up with a plan to have flats instead.

‘It is better to have flats than it just lying empty.’

Councillor Craig Hazel, who represents Elson, agreed.

He said: ‘It is disappointing but the whole conversion is being tastefully done.’

Sophie Curtis Property Ltd based in Hove, East Sussex, bought the church for £105,000 in August last year after the congregation moved to the Cooperage Green in Royal Clarence Yard.

The 104-year-old church has been empty since the move in 2011. The application was approved unanimously and will see the hall of the church demolished.

Four one-bedroom flats and four two-bedroom flats will be built on the site with five parking spaces.

The original application was withdrawn in August when lack of parking spaces – only two – were raised as a big concern.

But in the new plan, the five spaces will be solely for the use of the residents of the flats with signs going up as a condition to the application.

A further 13 conditions were listed with the application which Cllr Wright questioned.

He said: ‘With so many conditions, how can the council make sure they are following them and adhering to them all? We need to ensure they will be followed before the flats are built. ’

Council officers replied that monitoring will be in place.

One objection letter was received in regards to the application.

‘It said there were still insufficient parking spaces.