Published: 06:00, 16 September 2021
| Updated: 11:48, 16 September 2021
Plans to turn a derelict barn into a place of worship have been submitted to the council.
If given the go-ahead the disused brick building in in Barn Lane, Newington, near Sittingbourne, will provide a meeting place for the Plymouth Brethren Christina Church (PBCC).
The PBCC is a worldwide fellowship with around 400 meeting places in the UK, including one in Rainham.
If approved, Gwelo Farm would provide a new place for religious residents to meet, rather than having to travel to the Medway site in Wigmore Road.
The proposed conversion of the existing barn would involve minimal change to external part of the building, but a new roof would be needed due to the presence of asbestos.
Inside, the building would have a meeting hall, foyer, covered entrance, store areas and gents, ladies and disabled toilets.
A planning statement on Swale council’s website said: “It is important to emphasise that the building would be used solely for worship and prayer.
“It would not be used for social activities or functions and no amplified music would be played.”
It added the hall would be limited to accommodating no more than 50 people at any one time.
Despite this, concerned neighbours have criticised the proposals as an “obscene” place to have a church.
Jo Nicholls, also of Bull Lane, wrote: “This is an obscene place to put a church. The country roads are already too busy.
“There is no way that a gospel church will only hold 10 people at a time so where are all the other cars going to park?
“It is next to a working farmyard that is hard enough for the tractors and trailers to access as it is.
“This lane is meant to be a country road yet it is already too overrun with cars.
“Planning for another house with only two cars would not be allowed so a church with lots of cars definitely should not be.”
Planning permission was originally granted in 2018, with a fresh application for a change of use to the barn being submitted earlier this month.
Concluding why the applicant thinks the plans should be approved, the planning statement said: “It has clearly demonstrated that there is no objection to the broad principle of the proposed development and that it is acceptable in terms of its design and visual impact.
“It would not have a detrimental impact upon the residential amenity of nearby occupiers and has been shown to be acceptable in terms of highway safety and ecological issues.”
You can view the plans and have your say on them here, and input the reference 21/504487/FULL.