A CONTROVERSIAL proposal to rebuild a church in Christchurch has been submitted - for the second time.

An application has been handed to BCP Council to re-build Christchurch Baptist Church following claims the current building is “inadequate”.

The rebuild would see the demolition of a Victorian building at 51 Bargates, home to offices and the opticians Raxworthy, to make room for the new place of worship.

The design and access statement as part of the application said: "This proposal seeks to provide a new building, enabling it to continue serving the community within the town centre with much needed new facilities, whilst retaining the existing Church Building and Christian Centre to meet a variety of community needs.”

It is the second time that such plans have been submitted by the Christchurch Baptist Church, with the first unanimously rejected by BCP Council in 2020, and then dismissed on appeal.

At the time, town centre ward councillor Peter Hall expressed concerns the development would cause “significant harm”.

He said: “I’ve had countless residents contact me who strongly object to this large, dominant building – especially with it being in the town centre conservation area.

Bournemouth Echo: The proposal has been outlined in a design and access statementThe proposal has been outlined in a design and access statement

“The scale, design and mass would cause significant harm to the character of the area and another big problem is that the police station development will lead to the loss of more than 200 parking spaces.”

Issues were also raised on the effect the rejected scheme would have on the character and appearance of the area, the Christchurch central conservation area, and the living conditions of nearby residents.

Read more: New Christchurch Baptist Church plan set for refusal

The new proposal is still outlined for 51 Bargates but is said to have been ‘completely redesigned’ to address the concerns raised. The changes include a smaller floor plan, and two storeys rather than three.

The design and access statement reads: “The new building allows the church to continue to contribute towards BCP Council's stated aim of safeguarding and supporting community facilities and services in Christchurch.

“The proposal has taken into account the comments of both the Local Planning Authority and the Planning Inspectorate in order to provide a building of reduced scale, simple form and strong connection with its context, whilst meeting the needs of church members and the wider community.”