‘CINEMA BUILDING COULD JUST BECOME A CHURCH’
The former Granada cinema building in Church Road, Crystal Palace could end up as just a church if an application to turn the building into a church with mixed community use is approved.
The stark warning comes in an officers’ report to Bromley council’s plans sub-committee number four which will consider the application at their meeting on Thursday (March 5th).
KICC (Kingsway International Christian Centre) want a ‘change of use’ of 25 Church Road in Crystal Palace (former Rialto cinema) to a D1* church, conference and counselling centre with D2* add-on.
The report says that “whilst it may be appropriate to attach a condition limiting the church services as proposed, it is considered that a condition limiting any activity, or operation that could be conducted within Class D1 (non-residential institutions) would not only be imprecise;
“but that it would not be reasonable, or enforceable to do so given the intended use of the building as set out in the applicants submission.
“The planning application is for a mixed use of the entire building all of the time with only a specific activity within Class D1 being suggested for limitation.
“The ramification of this approach is that the building could result in a wholly Class D1 use irrespective of any limitation of a church service at selected times on selected days.
“And this would therefore result in the loss of a Class D2 (assembly and leisure) use of the site.
“The applicant has stated that should permission be granted it is their intention to make the premises available to outside organisations, or groups.
“But this in itself does not result in a use as defined within Class D2.”.
The report – which recommends refusal of KICC’s application but is ultimately the decision of councillors – adds that a number of objectors have proposed a cinema for the site.
“Whilst use of the building as a cinema would fall within the existing lawful planning use it cannot be assumed that refusal of this particular planning application will result in a cinema on the site.
“The applicant has purchased the site and the application proposal must be assessed on its individual merits, with regard to all material planning considerations.
“Policy C1 states that a proposal for development or change of use that meets an identified health, education, social, faith or other needs of particular communities or areas of the borough will normally be permitted provided that it is accessible by modes of transport other than the car and accessible to the members of the community it is intended to serve.
“Planning permission will not be granted for proposals that would lead to the loss of community facilities unless it can be demonstrated that there is no longer a need for them or alternative provision is to be made in an equally accessible location.
“From the accompanying planning statement (section five) it is clear that the first use of the building will be as a place of worship falling within Class D1 with the addition of Class D2 uses ‘at those times when it is not in use for church activities’ to ensure maximum community access to the building.
The times the use would not be in Class D1 church activities is not defined.
“It is proposed to allow community use for around 70 per cent of the time while the church services will operate at the stated times on Tuesday evenings and Sunday morning, but this does not form the full extent of the Class D1 church related activity.”
The report says a number of uses are listed as evidence of examples of programmes the church will operate, some of which consist of Class D1 uses such as training and educational activities, conferences, exhibitions.
“None of the listed activities and uses are specified by frequency” it adds.
“Although the church services themselves are within Class D1 and are stated as being at selected times, the remainder of the proposed Class D1 activity is open-ended with the Class D2 activities being aspirational.
“The planning statement refers to making the building available for wider community use to ensure an element of Class D2 uses at the site in addition to the primary use as a place of worship.
“But there is no specified opening or operating times for any specific class D2 uses and no suggestion that certain parts of the building would be retained for D2 uses.
“Whilst the application presents the opportunity for mixed class D1/D2 use of the site it has to be acknowledged that it will be possible for the entire building to be used for any activity within either of those use classes for any period of time; and in light of the information provided as part of the application it would appear that the majority of activities would fall within D1 Use Class.
“It is also noted that at paragraph 3.9 of the planning statement a total of six events are listed that have taken place since 2012 and that the applicant considers fall within class D2.
“Given the lawful use of the site, this is considered to represent a highly limited utilisation of the building and contradicts the wide range of proposed class D2 activities that would be actively offered should permission be granted” the report adds.
“The delivery of a genuine benefit to the immediate local community by making the building available to outside groups (para 3.17) has not taken place despite this forming an integral part of the applicant’s submission.
“The first refusal ground of the 2009 application relates to the loss of a use within Class D2 resulting in a reduction in the range of facilities provided within the town centre detrimental to the proper functioning of the daytime and evening economy and harmful to the social, cultural and economic characteristics of the area.
“As such the current application, by offering a mixed Class D1/D2 use which on the basis of the information provided within the applicants submission could result in an operation that would fall wholly within Class D1, is not considered to have overcome this ground of refusal.
“The site is the only Class D2 facility in the centre and its loss would …. lead to a loss of a limited social infrastructure without realistic re-provision harmful to the sense of place and cohesion of the wider community.”
RECOMMENDATION: APPLICATION BE REFUSED
The reasons for refusal are:
1 The proposed development, involving the loss of an important entertainment/leisure use within Use Class D2 and the introduction of a mixed use including a place of worship within Use Class D1, would result in a reduction in the range of facilities provided within the town centre detrimental to the proper functioning of the daytime and evening economy and harmful to the social, cultural and economic characteristics of the area, thereby contrary to Policies 3.16, 2.15 and 7.1of the London Plan.
2 The nature of the activity associated with a Class D1 use such as a place of worship is likely to have a wide catchment for attendees and attract a large number of cars and other vehicles.
As a result of this and the unsatisfactory parking and drop-off arrangements proposed, the development will have a significant adverse impact on the surrounding area in terms of parking demand and highway and pedestrian safety, contrary to Policies T3, T6 and T18 of the Unitary Development Plan.
*Class D1 (Non-residential institutions) includes clinics, health centres, crèches, day nurseries, day centres, schools, art galleries, museums, libraries, halls, places of worship, church halls, law courts, conferences, exhibition halls, non-residential education and training centres.
*Class D2 (Assembly and leisure) includes cinemas, music and concert halls, bingo and dance halls (but not night clubs), swimming baths, skating rinks, gymnasiums or sports arenas (except for motor sports, or where firearms are used) and convention centres.