Luton church appeals against enforcement

The Dominion City Complex
The Dominion City Complex

A converted church that has already been refused retrospective planning permission twice is to host a large convention from today.

The Dominion Complex on Hartley Road is a former garage that was converted in 2015. It has twice been refused retrospective planning permission.

After Luton Borough Council issued an enforcement notice in April, the 120-capacity church appealed once again to the Planning Inspectorate.

And starting today, it will host the four-day Dominion Convention with tickets advertised on website eventbrite, as well as on banners hanging in George Street.

A spokesman for their agent Town Planning Ltd said: “It’s a difficult situation of trying to find premises to carry out their worship. It’s something there is a pressing need for and I’d like the council to grasp this and work with community groups.

“It kind of feels like the church is being victimised in some way.”

But some people disagree.

One resident said: “They didn’t have planning permission for change of use before they made alterations and now this is their third retrospective application. It goes round in circles.”

Services last as late as 9pm on Tuesdays with three one hour and a half services on a Sunday.

A spokesman for Dominion Complex added: “We are not here to make problems, we’re here to help the community. Let it be known we’re here to help if for any reason anyone has a problem.

“The peace and enjoyment of the neighbourhood is our priority.”

The church added that it had commisioned its own independent sound test which it intends to submit as part of its appeal.

Retrospective planning permission was rejected by the LBC in September 2015 and an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate (PI) was also rejected in April 2016.

In those refusals, noise complaints and limited parking along the congested street were judged to be detrimental towards residents.

But the church has argued in its defence that parking congestion on the road is already a long-standing issue.

Its agent added: “The information that was submitted in the last appeal didn’t really reflect the use of the church.

“Throughout the country, churches are located within residential areas so I don’t think it’s in any way inappropriate to place a church in this area.”

A further retrospective application for a steel gate, sliding door and four air conditioners attached to the site was also refused in 2016.

A Luton Borough Council spokesman said: “When this situation came to our attention, an enforcement notice was issued. The Dominion Church has exercised its right to appeal against the notice and we are currently awaiting the findings of this. Depending on the results, the council will decide whether it’s in a position to take further action.”