CIVIC leaders have panned plans for new loos at Sidmouth Parish Church as ‘totally inappropriate’ – despite acknowledging there is a need for them.

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Proposals for a single-storey extension at St Nicholas and St Giles to house toilets failed to win the support of town councillors.

The new facilities would be tucked away on the western end of the northern aisle of the holy landmark.

Planning committee members who met last Wednesday felt that the west elevation was ‘the most important on any church’ and considered the application to be ‘totally inappropriate and visually intrusive for such a high profile and historic building’.

Members recognised the need for the proposal and expressed hopes a different location could be found.

The Grade II listed building, which dates back to the Norman age, was substantially rebuilt between 1859 and 1864.

It was reordered in 2009, with new floors and internal changes, but the discussed WC improvements were not taken forward.

There are already facilities on the eastern side of the church, but the western end has been deemed the best site for a discreet extension.

The 19sqm extension is set to feature a total of six male, female and disabled toilets.

The proposed area is occupied by some rough planting, shrubs and three large chest tombs, which date back before the 19th century and are thought to have been relocated already.

Construction will make a full excavation inevitable, but the applicants have committed to rebury any remains found during the development.

Much of the rest of the church is made from Salcombe Regis stone, but with this no longer available, a similar material is being sought.

Town councillors discussed the application on December 18.

The application will be decided on by East Devon District Council and the Diocese of Exeter.

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