BCP Council (Poole): Matt Annen has recently secured planning planning permission for the demolition and replacement of a rear extension and the change of use of a late-Victorian church hall to a mixed use of soft play café and community function/meeting room. The plans were designed by local firm; DMW Architects.

The church hall is located adjacent to St John’s Church which is a Grade II Listed building on Ashley Road in Parkstone. The Gospel Hall is recognised as a “non-designated heritage asset” on the basis of historic and social interest and by virtue of it sitting adjacent to St John’s Church.

Pure Town Planning presented a robust justification for the change of use on the basis that the proposed soft-play and café facility was considered to be a community use which would contribute to the range of facilities within the sustainable location. The proposed benefits such as early learning, engagement, all-weather play and a meeting place are considered to outweigh the existing Gospel Hall Facility, noting the availability of similar religious facilities in the area.

Policy PP26 of the Core Strategy states “the Council supports proposals for new sports, recreation and community facilities or the enhancement/expansion of existing facilities if they are located in areas that are easily accessible by the local community through public transport and / or safe and convenient walking and cycling routes.” The site is located along the edge of Parkstone District Centre which offers a vary of sustainable transport links and therefore the site is easily accessible to the local community compliant with Policy PP26.

In reaching her recommendation to grant planning permission the appointed planning officer deemed that the loss of the existing Gospel Hall use was considered to be outweighed by the benefits of the proposed community facility set within a sustainable location and would provide a use which would complement the surrounding facilities particularly the nearby pre-school and local shopping facilities on Ashley Road. As such the scheme was deemed to have social and economic benefits and would ensure the longevity of a community facility. The proposal would preserve the value and significance of the building, neighbouring amenity and would not harm parking provision or highway safety.

If you are looking to run a business and have found the perfect building in the perfect location, but it doesn’t have the required use to match the nature of your business, then why not contact contact Pure Town Planning for advice on whether your proposed use would likely be acceptable.