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Fireworks as church planning bid is rejected

PUBLISHED: 14:39 12 March 2008 | UPDATED: 09:49 12 August 2010

St Josephs Church, 312 High St, St Mary Cray, Parishioners are happy that plans to redevelop a church have been rejected.
Terry Crisp, paddy Quinlay,Geof Prendergast and Gloria Smith
Picture: Jamie Gray
Mobile:07834 965462
Email: jamie@jamiegray.com

St Josephs Church, 312 High St, St Mary Cray, Parishioners are happy that plans to redevelop a church have been rejected. Terry Crisp, paddy Quinlay,Geof Prendergast and Gloria Smith Picture: Jamie Gray Mobile:07834 965462 Email: jamie@jamiegray.com

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ECSTATIC parishioners are celebrating after planning permission to redevelop their church was refused. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark applied to knock down the existing St Joseph s church in St Mary Cray High Street to replace it with anoth

ECSTATIC parishioners are celebrating after planning permission to redevelop their church was refused.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark applied to knock down the existing St Joseph's church in St Mary Cray High Street to replace it with another one and some residential housing.

Original plans were shelved in February because of a lack of car parking and traffic congestion, and the diocese was asked to go away and rethink their application.

But it re-submitted the same plans which were refused at a fiery planning meeting at Bromley Civic Centre last Thursday.

Spokesman for St Peter and St Paul Action Group, Geoff Prendergast, said: "There were fireworks at the meeting.

"We were flabbergasted by the audacity of the diocese who said if the council didn't take the application as it was then it would to appeal. The council went berserk at that.

"It's heartening when the weak and dispossessed witness a powerful autocratic institution have its flawed agenda overturned by an elected democratic assembly."

Parishioners were worried that the new plans would make it hard for elderly and infirm members of the congregation to use the church.

Mr Prendergast added: "There are hardly any buses going from east to west and they would be forced to use cars but there aren't enough car parking spaces.

"A car sharing scheme was introduced a while back but it was so chaotic and sporadic that nobody uses it anymore.

"There was supposed to be a minibus as well but that never happened."

There were environmental concerns about the application because Pipistrelle bats have taken up residence in the church.

English Heritage also believes the site has historical value because Roman and Anglo Saxon artefacts have been found nearby.

But the diocese said it would not be dissuaded by the decision.

Diocesan Communications Officer, Monsignor William Saunders, said: "The diocese has taken note of the proceedings at the planning meeting on Thursday.

"An appeal is quite likely but cannot be confirmed until the Trustees of the Diocese have given their approval."

Katherine.nelson@archant.co.uk

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