New block of 34 flats approved in Marsh Farm next to church and vicarage

Planning permission has been granted for 34 social housing flats in Marsh Farm next to a church and vicarage, after councillors went on a site visit.

At a meeting of the council's development control committee last Friday, it was heard the properties would not dominate the nearby Church of the Holy Cross.

The site is located to the rear of the Church of the Holy Cross

The site is located to the rear of the Church of the Holy Cross

The brownfield site, by the junction of Buckle Close and Northwell drive, was once a former children’s home which was demolished in 2008.

Opponents of the scheme had insisted The Church of the Holy Cross would be overlooked by the apartments.

Their concerns that “irrepairable damage” would be caused to the role of the church and vicarage persuaded councillors to arrange a site visit at the previous meeting a month ago.

Principal planning officer Graham Dore said: “All of the flats will be affordable, and they will be provided across three- or four-storeys, as explained before.

“The site is a piece of brownfield land last occupied by a children’s home.

“The design is considered of a high quality and will improve the character of the locality, as well as the security of the surrounding area.”

Seven one-bed, 19 two-bed and eight three-bedroom flats would be provided.

Labour Farley councillor Dave Taylor, who chairs the committee, said: “Those on the site visit spent some time looking at all the angles, especially the height.

“I felt it would not be overbearing. It is a brownfield area and part of the Marsh Farm masterplan, and it is social housing.”

Labour Farley councillor Mahmood Hussain said: “It’s now far more clearer in my mind the actual distance between the church and vicarage and the house itself.

“In light of that, I will be supporting the officer’s recommendation for approval.”

At the previous meeting, Father Richard Brown, from the church, said: “I am not objecting to principle of social housing.

“I and others are opposing this development because of its negative impact on the use of the vicarage and the church, and the lack of community cohesion.

“It would cause irrepairable damage to the role and function of the church in this part of Luton.

“A vicarage is not only a home, but a place where sensitive pastoral work is carried out, even in the garden.”

Councillors approved the plans prompting councillor Taylor to add: “I hope the church works with the community, in the community, for the community.”