Church fears noise complaints from residents of new flats approved for Walthamstow

A church that uses live music in its services fears plans to build flats on an empty site next door will mean it is 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.

The Rev Douglas Wallace, minister at the neighbouring Calvary Church of God in Christ, told the council’s planning committee on January 14 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 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 the reverend 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 them to the risk of having their decision overturned on appeal.

If a rejected developer successfully appeals the decision of a planning committee, the council is then expected to pay the costs of the appeal process.

Committee chairwoman Cllr Jenny Gray (Lab, Leytonstone) 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.”

Cllr Marie Pye (Lab, Leytonstone) recognised the difficulty refusing the application but was concerned the developer had not been asked to contribute enough towards affordable housing.

There will be no affordable flats on the site itself and the developer is instead paying the council £712,750 towards the cost of building them elsewhere, which Cllr Pye felt was not enough.

She said: “We are really not getting that much money for the off-site contribution. It’s a handful of units, not the 50 per cent 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.”

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter