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Sikh temple reprieved - for now

Gravesend's Sikh Temple
Gravesend's Sikh Temple

by Danny Boyle

Controversial plans to bulldoze Gravesend’s Sikh temple and replace it with flats have been refused - but will be heard again.

Gravesham council has withdrawn permission it granted for the Siri Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwarato be knocked down after a legal challenge.

SAVE, a group which fights to preserve historic buildings, applied for an injunction against developer Thamesview Living and called for a judicial review into councillors’ approval.

However, the council announced on Friday - before the case reached court - that it will reconsider the application next month.

The move has been met with frustration by the Sikh community, with leaders wanting the temple off their hands to raise money for a new £12m place of worship in KhalsaAvenue.

Gravesham council’s regulatory board granted permission for 19 flats and two houses to be built on the Clarence Place site, once home to Milton Congregational Church, in July.

Councillors concluded the temple should be demolished because it is in a state of disrepair and unlikely to attract a buyer.

But SAVE argued the Victorian building should be protected, saying it would be “tragic and short-sighted” to call in the bulldozers.

William Palin, secretary of SAVE, said proper attention was not paid to guidelines relating to the demolition of buildings in conservation areas.

He said the group is delighted by the latest decision: “We hope that the application will be refused and that, instead, the council will encourage a scheme for sympathetic reuse.”
A Gravesham council spokesman denied it had conceded defeat, saying the decision was taken “in the light of technicalities” with the approval.

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