Neighbours ‘gravely’ concerned about Harpenden church centre revamp

St John's Church and parish centre. Picture: Google Maps

St John's Church and parish centre. Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Archant

Neighbours are “gravely” concerned about the parking impact of a Harpenden church’s parish centre revamp.

St John’s Church has applied to demolish a 1968 detached side building and erect a new two-storey parish centre in its place, connected to the main chapel’s aisle.

It is currently used by numerous Christian and nonreligious groups, including as a polling station and by Faith and Light, Queen Buzby Mae Pre-School, The Dance Studio, Daylight Club, and the Harpenden Light Operatic Society.

The current hall, described as “not fit for purpose” and “inflexible” in the planning application to St Albans district council (SADC), would be superseded by an ICT hub and café, reception and parish office, kitchen, 150 person hall, and lounge, activity, and general purpose rooms.

However, local residents are concerned that there is no additional parking for the new space.

A member of the Cravells Area Residents Association, Steve Gledhill, said: “My grave worry, which is shared by many local residents, is simply the lack of adequate parking for 150 people. The plans show just six parking places.

“The church hopes to rely on the availability of parking in nearby streets but as a local resident I can state without fear of contradiction that there is no spare capacity even now.”

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A Travel Plan Statement submitted as part of the application states there will only be 15 people using the church car park from 8.30pm to 4pm.

Steve added: “I wish them well but without a proper plane for parking provision I and many local residents will call for the plans in their current format to be rejected.”

A spokesman on behalf of St John’s emphasised that it is not the church’s intention to significantly increase use of the parish centre: “St John’s is committed to providing a modern, sustainable and improved facility, that we hope will provide for the future needs of the church community and our local residents.

“The concerns with regards to parking are recognised and have been addressed within the Transport Statement and draft Travel Plan.”

You can view the plans for the parish centre using reference 5/2019/0222. Comments will be accepted until April 3.