A ‘monstrosity’ of a development planned for land next to St John’s Church, in Crawley, has been turned down.
The application, to demolish the neighbouring church hall and replace it with shops and 34 homes, received no support from members of the borough council’s planning committee on Tuesday night.
Plans to develop the site, in the Broadway, were first discussed in 2015.
While many members recognised the need to improve the area, which includes a small NCP car park, they had nothing good to say about this application.
It proposed a part two-storey building, stepping up to four storeys, with 28 one-bedroom and six two-bedroom flats, seven of which would be on the ground floor.
Shops and community space would look out on to the Broadway.
Brenda Burgess (Con, Three Bridges) said: “I can’t understand why we’ve got this monstrosity.
“I think the whole thing just seems so overpowering.
“When I think what it could look like, when I remember the plans I saw before, and what it is now, it just will jar.”
Peter Smith (Lab, Ifield) said: “It looks like they’ve tried to pack the biggest amount of rooms that are just borderline on size requirements.
“It looks like it’s just been dropped down from above and doesn’t fit in there at all.”
There were concerns about the impact of the new flats on the church, which dates back to the 13th century, and the effect the church bells would have on future residents.
A report from the planning officer said the applicant hadn’t provided an adequate heritage statement – a way of assessing the impact of the development on the church – and had not shown that the church hall was now surplus to requirements.
The report added: “The overall scale and massing of the development is considered to harm the setting of St John the Baptist Church, which is a Grade II* listed building, and is harmful to the character of the High Street Conservation Area.
“The proposal also fails to address the site context and relationship to the Broadway or from other key views.
“The design, layout and massing is considered incongruous in its site context and harmful to the character of the area.”