New request for reconstruction of Christchurch Baptist Church

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A CONTROVERSIAL proposal to rebuild a church in Christchurch has been submitted – for the second time.

A request has been submitted to the BCP Council to rebuild Christchurch Baptist Church following allegations that the current building is “inadequate”.

The reconstruction would see the demolition of a Victorian building at 51 Bargates, housing offices and the Raxworthy opticians, to make way for the new place of worship.

The design and access statement as part of the application stated: “This proposal aims to provide a new building, allowing it to continue to serve the community within the town center with much needed new facilities, whilst retaining the existing church building and Christian center to meet a variety of community needs.

This is the second time such plans have been submitted by the Christchurch Baptist Church, the first having been unanimously rejected by the BCP Council in 2020 and then rejected on appeal.

At the time, inner city ward councilor Peter Hall feared the development would cause “significant damage”.

He said: “I have had countless residents contact me who strongly object to this towering tall building, particularly if it is in the downtown conservation area.

The proposal has been described in a design and access statement

“The scale, design and massing would significantly detract from the character of the area and another big issue is that the development of the police station will result in the loss of over 200 parking spaces.”

Questions have also been raised about the effect the rejected project would have on the character and appearance of the area, the Christchurch Core Conservation Area and the living conditions of nearby residents.

Read more: Plan for new Christchurch Baptist Church set to be denied

The new proposal is still sketched out for 51 Bargates, but would have been “completely redesigned” to address the concerns raised. Changes include a smaller floor plan and two floors instead of three.

The design and access statement reads: “The new building enables the church to continue to contribute to BCP Council’s stated aim of safeguarding and supporting community facilities and services in Christchurch.

“The proposal has taken into account feedback from the Local Planning Authority and the Planning Inspectorate to provide a building that is small in scale, simple in form and has a strong connection to its context, whilst meeting the needs members of the church and the wider community.”

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