A CHURCH has vowed to keep on fighting after Thurrock Council scuppered plans for it to take over a disused shop reports the Local Democracy Reporter.
The Eagles Christian Connections church sought planning permission to turn 1 Kingston Parade, Hathaway Road, Grays into a place of worship and a community hall.
The Pentecostal church aimed to use the unit during the week as a lively community centre with worship taking place on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 6pm.
Pastor Tope Ekundayo hoped to run the church with his wife Elizabeth but their planning application has been turned down.
The council said the change of use would result in the loss of a retail unit.
Mr Ekundayo, said: “Being disappointed is an understatement but we are not really surprised although we wanted a change of approach by the council.
“We know that since the application was put forward, we are going against opposition because we are a church even though we listed other benefits we are bringing into the community.”
The pastor added: “The application was refused based on two reasons, one of them is parking. Honestly we all know that should never be a reason even from the eyes of laypeople, there is more than enough space to cater for us and this was proved by the consultant who did a survey. We are definitely not giving up on this.”
The church had hoped to create a supportive community where “children and single parents can find solace, guidance, and a nurturing space for growth”. It also aimed to open a foodbank in the former second hand shop.
The council received complaints from residents over a lack of adequate parking. Jayne Oliff of Hathaway Road, was also concerned about noise. Submitting an objection to the council, she said: “As a resident here of over 20 years. I’m very sorry to say that this change of use from a shop to a church would be totally wrong. Noise levels here are already at their peak.
“As this church would be housed within the same building of where I live I fear the noise would be overwhelming and resonate through the building into my flat. It’s bad enough with people using the launderette leaving cars idling, banging car doors and talking on mobile phones they may as well be in my flat with me at times.”