Church conversion granted despite residents' opposition

An unpopular move to convert a church into an assisted living complex has been granted, despite dozens of protests from surrounding residents.
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The former St John's Methodist Church on Ossett' s South Parade was subject to a planning application to transform the building into homes for up to 10 vulnerable people.

The applicant, Mr Gurdip Singh, from Horbury, says the properties will be for those with learning difficulties, people fleeing domestic abuse, or people with health conditions that require a 'degree of support'.

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He has a similar scheme operating at Reams House in Pontefract.

The old church will become a housing unit.The old church will become a housing unit.
The old church will become a housing unit.

Thirty-one objections were submitted to Wakefield Council, with many raising concerns over what is perceived as a lack of clarity on the type of residents they can expect.

One said: "I object to this proposal due to there being no clear definition of the end user of the type of residents requiring assisted living."

Another said: "The proposal itself doesn't give full assurance that the examples of its potential usage is the overall intention for this new facility."

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Other submitted concerns over parking problems, while others rued the loss of a church which dates back hundreds of years.

One resident wrote: "I don't believe that churches which offer historic education to the younger generation and a graveyard should be changed for any reason other than what they are which is a historic building.

"As a young child I attended this church as I'm originally from Ossett and although I think assisted living is a good thing, in my opinion there would be better places to put it."

The church closed in 2020 due to a lack of use and was sold off. It was put on the market for £250,000.

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A statement with the application read: "The new strategy involves giving all residents their own front door, their own cooking and bathing facilities, a separate bedroom, access to care and guidance where needed, and access to community living, where residents can create stability and independence in their lives.

"The submission follows discussions between the applicant and care commissioners which indicate a shortage of this type of accommodation in the area.

"The submitted layout shows 10 self-contained apartments within the building.

"Depending on the nature of the end user it may well be the case that a small number of these apartments are occupied by staff."

Planners at Wakefield Council agreed there were no issues with the application, before granting planning permission.