Locks Heath church’s plans for expansion meet with opposition

PLANS An artist's impression of the proposals for Locks Heath Free Church
PLANS An artist's impression of the proposals for Locks Heath Free Church
The fragment from the Union Jack believed to have flown on board HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Credit: Sotheby's

Flag from HMS Victory and Lord Nelson’s love letters up for sale at London auction

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PLANS to massively expand a church with a £4.2m extension have met with opposition from some of its neighbours.

Locks Heath Free Church has submitted its ambitious proposals to create a new building with a 500-seat auditorium, a sports hall, a coffee shop and community rooms.

But some people living around the Hunts Pond Road church are worried that the extra numbers it will draw will also bring traffic chaos.

Bob Tompkin lives opposite the church and said: ‘I’m not against the church as such, it’s the size of the extension.

‘The Locks Heath area has suffered a lot of development recently without the infrastructure.

‘And with this much bigger auditorium, it’s going to cause congestion. I think it’s like trying to put a quart into a pint pot.

‘We have spoken to the church but it’s a bit of a stand-off at the moment.

‘In my view they seem to be moving away from being a church to a commercial enterprise.’

Mike Gausden of Ascot Close added: ‘We are going to be inundated with extra traffic with all this extra usage and a lot more people coming from outside the area.’

And a body calling itself The Hunts Pond Action Group has sent out a leaflet calling on people to object to the proposals.

Church leader Mark Madavan said: ‘This is about community, so we are trying to correct some of the rumours that are going around in a gentle way.

‘We really are serving the community. It’s not going to be a big commercial venue that’s going to be rented out seven nights a week.

‘We have a long list of people from the community in need of space – it will be great to help provide a solution.

‘I’ve even heard that we’re in league with Morrisons, which is ridiculous.

‘And we aren’t seeking to rival Ferneham Hall in Fareham. We will have a very limited backstage area and it will be a much lower scale sort of operation.’

Mr Madavan said they would have 90 parking spaces onsite and a further 130 nearby.

Comments can be made on the application until May 9. More than 160 letters have already been sent to the council regarding the plans.

No date has been set for Fareham Borough Council’s planning committee to decide on the proposals.