Report by Victoria Munro, Local Democracy Reporter
A church that uses live music in its services fears plans to build flats on an empty site next door will mean it becomes inundated with noise complaints.
Developer Nicholas Taylor and Associates applied to Waltham Forest Council for permission to build to build 27 flats on the former Parker Dairies depot site in Wood Street, Walthamstow.
Reverend Douglas Wallace, minister at the neighbouring Calvary Church of God in Christ, told the council’s planning committee last week he was “extremely concerned” that new residents would complain about noise from services at the Pentecostal church, which also has its own dance team.
Despite noting their own concerns, councillors felt they had to grant permission as a similar application for the site had been approved only two years ago.
Rev Wallace said: “Over the years, we have enjoyed unrestricted worship without complaints from residents.
“During our services, we use a Hammond organ, a keyboard and drums. We are anxious that the proposed development should not affect the existing use of the church.
“The current owners would need to upgrade the plans so the occupants are not affected by our worship.”
Mandip Sahota, representing the applicant, told the committee and that the church’s concerns had been “taken on board”. He said: “The scheme has been designed with sufficient sound insulation measures in the fabric of the building.”
Because the committee previously approved a very similar application for the site, refusing the new application would expose the council to the risk of having their decision overturned on appeal – and paying associated costs.
Committee chairperson Jenny Gray said: “It’s difficult because planning permission was given for an almost identical scheme already. I do not think it would be reasonable for us to turn this down.
“I can assure the reverend that the church won’t be prosecuted if they keep their noise within agreed limits, which I’m sure they will.”
Councillor Marie Pye was concerned the developer had not been asked to contribute enough towards ‘affordable’ housing. Although there will be no discounted flats on the site itself, the developer is instead paying the council £712,750 towards the cost of building them elsewhere.
Cllr Pye felt it was not enough and said: “We are really not getting that much money for the off-site contribution. It’s a handful of units, not the 50% we should be seeking.”
Following the committee’s decision, Rev Wallace told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the church, which has been there for 25 years, also objected to the original plans in 2018. He said: “I’m sure there’s going to be a problem with noise. They said they guarantee they will soundproof but I can’t take their word for it.
“The building is over 100 years old and they are going to be pile-driving and putting in concrete pillars, I don’t know what bearing that’s going to have.
“We tried our best to stop it. We serve the community and all of a sudden they want to put this monstrosity beside us.”