‘Mighty relief’ at go-ahead for loos

Plans for an extension to the north wall of the church were given the go-ahead last Friday

Plans for an extension to the north wall of the church were given the go-ahead last Friday - Credit: Archant

STAFF at Ottery St Mary Parish Church have told of their delight after plans for an extension to the 14th century building received the green light.

There were cheers and claps from the congregation when the news was announced to church-goers on Sunday, following a site visit by East Devon District Council (EDDC) planning officials last Friday.

Members of the EDDC planning inspections committee voted four to two in favour of the proposed extension, which will house new toilets and additional storage space.

Church warden Grenville Gilbert said that staff at the church were ‘mightily relieved’ to have been granted planning permission 17 years after the idea of an extension was first proposed.

He said: “There was a huge amount of merriment when everyone heard the news – we are absolutely delighted.

“We were very concerned after planning officers recommended the application be refused, but, fortunately, the committee agreed to a site visit.”

“After they came to see the church, it was obviously clear to them that what we have proposed was the only practical option.”

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The application received 30 letters from members of the public who backed the plans, and several Ottery councillors gave their support at the committee meeting on Friday.

Councillor Ian Holmes, who spoke on behalf of the town council, described the church as the ‘biggest village hall in East Devon’ and said that the extension was desperately needed.

Councillor David Cox said that Ottery residents did not live in a ‘rural museum’ where historical buildings cannot be altered in any way.

Councillor Roger Giles argued that the extension was just the ‘latest evolutionary step’ for the church.

Mr Gilbert said the final step before work can begin on the extension is receiving approval from church officials in the Diocesan Advisory Committee.

He added: “I’m hoping that, by the middle of next year, work will have started.”

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