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Anger at pub's use as a Christian centre
A PETITION could be launched against a Christian centre which residents claim was given the go-ahead without proper consultation.
The Echo revealed last week the Nigerian-founded Redeemed Christian Church of God had been granted planning permission to take over the Long Riding pub in Long Riding, Basildon.
The building has been empty since it closed last year, but will now host religious meetings, counselling, educational workshops and kids activity clubs.
Basildon Council received ten objection letters about the plans, but many residents claim they were not informed about the proposed change of use and were not given a chance to have their say.
Laureen Duncan, 56, of Long Riding, said: “If I hadn’t seen the Echo I probably wouldn’t have known this was happening until the centre actually opened. I think the way this has been done is really underhand and I’m angry the council didn’t bother to speak to everyone living nearby, it’s us this is going to affect.
“If this causes a lot of noise and parking problems we are not going to be happy. I know it’s probably too late now, but I would like to do something so am thinking about starting a petition.
“I don’t think any of the residents will actually use the centre.
I have spoken to my neighbours and none of them will be sending their kids, so I don’t see how this is going to benefit us.” Another resident, who would not be named, added: “This is not to do with race, it is to do with it being the wrong kind of development for that site.
These religious meetings will go on until late in the evening and cause more problems with congestion and noise than we ever had with the pub.
“You would think this church would much rather open up in a place where they actually have the support of the community, something just doesn't seem right.”
The decision to grant the Christian centre proposals was taken by planning officers at Basildon Council and did not go to committee for councillors to vote on. A spokesman said this was because the application was for a minor change of use and did not involve any alterations to the building.
He added: “For this type of application, which was for a change of use, the council is only required to install a site display near to the land for at least 21 days and inform any adjoining owner or occupier.
“Along with doing this, we went much further by also writing to over 70 nearby properties.
“Basildon Council fully complied with the national procedure for this application and any suggestions that this is not the case are incorrect.”
Representatives of the Redeemed Christian Church of God were contacted by the Echo for a comment, but did not respond.
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