Town council’s reservations over plans to turn former chapel into homes

HEADQUARTERS: Huntingdonshire District Council's Pathfinder House

HEADQUARTERS: Huntingdonshire District Council's Pathfinder House - Credit: Archant

A former Victorian chapel in St Neots town centre is set to get a new lease of life as a pair of homes.

Huntingdonshire District Council’s development management committee is being recommended to approve the conversion, despite concerns from St Neots Town Council.

The chapel, at 20B High Street, is part of a larger site where a number of storage and other buildings are being redeveloped into residential units.

But the town council has opposed the scheme because it believes there will be parking and access issues on the site.

The building is empty but was originally a congregational chapel and had more recently been used as workshops.

The scheme involves putting a partition through the middle of the chapel, creating two three-bedroom properties with a parking space on each side. Access for vehicles would come from the existing entrance on Brook Street, with additional cycle and pedestrian access from the High Street.

A report to councillors said that the proposed single parking space for each residential unit was “acceptable” for a town centre site and that the layout provided adequate to allow vehicles to enter and leave in a forward gear without compromising highway safety.

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Planners also said that secure cycle store was proposed as a condition of development.

The report said: “The St Mary’s Urban Village Urban Design Framework identifies the chapel as a landmark to be retained and, therefore, the refurbishment of the building and the reinstatement of architectural features is supported in principle.

“Materials and joinery details will be conditioned to ensure a satisfactory appearance.”

The report said: “Officers have given special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of the conservation area and setting of nearby listed buildings.

“It is considered that harm will not be caused to these designated heritage assets because the development would have a positive effect given the poor state of the existing building.”

Plans to convert the chapel had been approved in 2013 but the permission has since expired.

Conditions would include reusing materials where possible and putting in replacements which match the originals.