A four-storey block of flats will be built next to a “landmark” church building to allow it to modernise its facilities.
Edmonton Methodist Church has won permission to build 24 flats and a new, three-storey church building at its site in Fore Street.
Built in the 1920s in the Arts and Crafts style, the church is a focal point in an area of late 19th and early 20th century buildings, including a former library and police station.
The frontage of the existing church – defined as a landmark building in the Fore Street Conservation Area – will be retained as part of the new development, although the rear hall will be demolished.
Councillors approved the application at a meeting of the planning committee on Tuesday, where council officers explained the money raised from the sale of the flats would be used to fund the improvements.
Planning officer Claire Williams told the meeting the internal layout of the existing building is “poorly arranged” and “has a number of issues with regards to health and safety”. It is also “non-compliant with regards to level access for wheelchair users, and there is a lack of fire escapes”, she added.
“The need for the redevelopment of the site is due to the increasing demand from the growing congregation and an identified need to provide improved facilities for the wider community,” Ms Williams explained.
Cllr Hass Yusuf (Labour, Chase) raised concerns that 19 of the flats would be one-bedroom and none would be classed as affordable – although he praised the design of the building.
Ms Williams said: “If it was to provide affordable housing, the scheme would not be viable, and it would not be able to deliver a new church that accommodates modern facilities.”
She told the committee a review mechanism forms part of the agreement with the church, so affordable housing can be provided if it becomes viable to do so.
“The key here is that a new facility will be provided for the community,” Ms Williams added. “That is the key benefit of the scheme that needs to be taken into consideration.”
At the end of the debate, the application was unanimously approved by members of the committee.