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THE APPEAL BY THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY AGAINST EAST GRINSTEAD URBAN COUNCIL'S REFUSAL TO GRANT PLANNING PERMISSION FOR LARGE-SCALE DEVELOPMENT AT THEIR HEADQUARTERS AT SAINT HILL MAY LAST TWO DAYS.
A petition signed by over 460 people objecting to the development, in addition to individual objections, was sent to the Urban Council at the time they discussed the application and notices of the local inquiry have been sent to them.
The inquiry, which will be conducted by an Inspector of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, opens at the Large Parish Hall, East Grinstead, on Wednesday, May 29, at 10.30 a.m. The local authority will be represented by counsel.
It was on February 6 that the Planning Committee of the Urban Council considered the application from the Church of Scientology, California, who wished to extend existing buildings by the erection of single-storey buildings at Saint Hill Manor comprising approximately some 23,500 square feet.
The Planning Committee refused the application on the following grounds:—
'(1) The necessity for the proposed teaching block is not apparent, but if the need for further extension can be established then it should be provided within the Manor House by the appropriation of the living accommodation without the introduction of further buildings within the grounds in accordance with the council's submission to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government in respect of the appeal against the refusal of planning permission to Application No. J/62/5880 for the erection of a post-graduate training school and administrative office at Saint Hill Manor.
'(2) The site is outside the Development Area as indicated on the East Grinstead Town Map and is within an area where it is intended that the existing uses of land shall remain for the most part undisturbed and where it is proposed that only buildings essential to Agriculture or Forestry shall ordinarily be permitted.
'(3) The intrusion of these further buildings with their associated uses and major intensification of the scale of activities in this quiet predominately rural area would, if permitted, have a widespread impact on the nearby properties and surrounding areas, and be against the interests of, and detrimental to, the visual amenities and general characteristics of the locality.
'(4) The proposal would constitute an undesirable addition to scattered development in a rural area unrelated to the needs of agriculture or forestry and would, if permitted, create additional hazards to traffic using the adjoining road.'
The grounds of the appeal by the Church of Scientology are as follows:—
'(1) There is no justification for the refusal of planning permission in this case as planning permission was confirmed by the competent authority successively on the 4th November, 1984, and on the 21st April, 1985, in respect of the greater part, if not the whole, of the proposed development. Without prejudice to the foregoing in the opinion of the appellants.
'(2) The proposed development is in logical sequence to the existing use of the whole property recognised by the competent authorities.
'(3) The proposed development is consistent with the terms of the Minister's previous decision on appeal, affecting the property, dated the 12th September, 1963. (Ministry ref. APP/1068/A/ 67563).
'(4) In view of the past planning history of the property and successive planning decisions by the competent authorities hitherto the first and second reasons for the refusal of planning permission in this case have no material significance.
'(5) There is no reason to expect that the proposed development, if permitted, would
(a) Result in a major intensification of the present scale of activities within the curtilage of the property.
(b) Have a detrimental impact upon nearby properties and surrounding areas.
(c) Detrimentally affect the visual amenities and general characteristics of the locality.
"The third reason for the refusal of planning permission is, therefore, entirely without substance.
'(6) The proposed development would be so closely related, physically, to the existing buildings within the curtilage and their permitted uses that the first argument In the fourth reason for the refusal of planning permission is absurd on the face of it. There is nothing to show that traffic generated by the use of the proposed buildings would create additional hazards to traffic on adjoining highways.'
Any person desirous of making representations may attend the inquiry and give their views either personally or through a representative or submit them in writing. If written submissions are made express permission should be given for the views to be disclosed to the Ministry Inspector at the inquiry.