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St Columba United Reformed Church in Dover could become flats

A former church that was ravaged by fire could be turned into 16 flats.

Planning councillors will today discuss the conversion of the St Columba United Reformed Church building in Dover High Street.

United Reformed Church, Dover (16219614)
United Reformed Church, Dover (16219614)

It had been burned to a shell 12 years ago after previous work was done to change it to homes.

The building has been derelict ever since.

This time there is an application to put in 16 apartments, seven two bedroomed and nine one bedroomed.

This new scheme would use the original volume of the building but push up the original three storeys to five.

Six letters of objections from neighbours have been received by Dover District Council.

The church building now, with a temporary roof at the back. Picture: Sam Lennon
The church building now, with a temporary roof at the back. Picture: Sam Lennon

The writers complain that no on-site parking is provided, that there are too many flats and that the higher new building would overlook neighbouring properties.

Tower Hamlets ward councillor Pam Brivio said in a written submission: "Parking is in my opinion and that of several residents a problem and development of this scale will exacerbate the situation."

Planning officers acknowledge that Priory Hill, on building's the right flank, has free-for-all parking.

This has led to spaces for residents being taken up by people visiting the town centre or using Dover Priory Station.

But Kent Highways are not against the scheme,saying parking restrictions are in place in neighbouring streets.

It took fire crews 12 hours to control the blaze 12 years ago. Picture: Terry Scott
It took fire crews 12 hours to control the blaze 12 years ago. Picture: Terry Scott

They also say that the area is well served by buses and trains andpublic car parks are nearby.

The development does have storage space for 18 bicycles.

Officers are recommending approval.

The report says: "While the proposal makes no provision for on-site parking it is considered that this is acceptable given the highly sustainable location of the development.

"Overall it is concluded that by bringing the disused building back into use, which is currently in disrepair, the development would provide significant visual enhancement of the townscape.

"There is clear benefit in regenerating the site and tidying up what is currently a significant detractor of the character of the area."

The church originally opened on September 7, 1904 and became United Reformed in 1972.

Smoke rose above the town centre in the 2007 fire. Picture: Terry Scott
Smoke rose above the town centre in the 2007 fire. Picture: Terry Scott

It closed in 2003 and work to turn the building into flats began in 2006.

But it was destroyed by fire on September 22, 2007. The blaze ravaged the rear of the building, destroying the roof and damaging all floors.

Firefighters were called at 11.50am and it took them 12 hours to bring the blaze under control.

The building was sold at auction for £178,000 in June 2015.

Read more: All the latest news from Dover

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