Plans to replace burned-out church with flats rejected

Plans to knock down a burned-out church near Birkenhead Park and replace it with 16 new flats have been rejected.

The self-contained flats would have been built following the demolition of The Church of Christ the King on Park Road South in Birkenhead. Park Road Developments had put forward the plans to create four single bedroom and 12  two bedroomed flats in a four-floor building.

The developers had submitted an application in 2022 for the same number of flats but this was rejected by Wirral Council. It then reapplied in August 2023 with some changes to improve the outlook onto Merton Place as well as further details related to surface water and sustainability.

The first planning application said the new flats would be energy efficient “on a major road and with an excellent bus service available and the location of a train station, Birkenhead Park, in easy walking distance on the far side of the park immediately in front of the development.

“The site is virtually opposite to Birkenhead Park which will provide ample recreation space to anyone living in the proposed units.”

However, the council refused the plans again in February 2024 arguing the current scheme is not one it could support under current planning policy.

An officer report publishing the decision said, “Whilst the proposed development for the provision of 16 no. apartments would help achieve the Council meeting its housing targets, any public benefit arising from the development would not outweigh the adverse impact it would have.”

It added the development failed “to relate well to the surrounding property” and “any public benefit would not outweigh the harm to the amenity of neighbouring properties or to the future occupants of the development.”

The officer report said an agreement had not been signed on the necessary affordable housing that would be created as part of the development and said Park Road Developments “has failed to demonstrate how recreational pressure will be avoided or mitigated.”

It also said apartments in the upper floors “failed to meet” required standards for apartment space and windows “would not allow for sufficient daylight to enter these bedroom spaces.” The report also said the latest application “fails to draw any inspiration from the design qualities of the existing church.”

The Church of Christ the King was founded in 1951 and was part of a religious group called the Churches or Disciples of Christ, originally formed in the United States. The church was last used as a Christian centre before burning down in 2009 in a serious fire.

Since then, the building has continued to decline with Park Road Developments saying the current structure is not developable. In their first application for the site, Park Road said, “It is sadly, commercially unrealistic to endeavour to restore it to its former state as a place of worship.”

Image: www.birkenhead2020.com

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