Tuesday 12 December 2017

Factory not just the job for place of worship

Donal Buckley

A CHRISTIAN organisation has been told it can't convert a factory into a place of worship -- because it might interfere with the creation of jobs.

The Assemblies of God, which operates from about 20 locations in the Republic and 10 in the North, had previously received Dublin City Council approval to change the use of a 'light' industrial unit in Stannaway Drive, Crumlin, into a place of worship.

However, An Bord Pleanala received two appeals against the council's approval.

One of these, from a man called Martin Byrne, asserted that the change "has the potential to devalue property in the vicinity" and that the noise nuisance created by the church's music "would make it difficult for him to let his adjoining rental property".

When deciding to overturn the city council's approval, the appeal board pointed out that the property is zoned for job creation and this was not compatible with community use, which could "erode this strategic land bank" and "adversely impact existing businesses".

The refusal may have implications for a number of churches which have converted warehouses around the country into places of worship. Brian Kelly, pastor for the church in Crumlin, expressed disappointment with the decision.

"The reasons for the board's refusal had nothing to do with the objections. We checked out in advance that the zoning would allow its use as a place of worship," he said.

The Assemblies of God planned to hold services on Saturday evenings and prayer meetings on Wednesdays in the Crumlin property, as well as bingo and social mornings for elderly people, a job club, and a mothers and toddlers group.


The refusal also came as a surprise to the property sector.

Gavin Butler of Savills said: "There's no shortage of industrial accommodation in Dublin.

"Some churches opt for industrial estates because rents are cheap and their activities take place at weekends, so they don't interfere with neighbouring businesses."

Cathal Daughton of Lisney added: "At a time when more than 1.1 million sq m of industrial space is lying vacant and so many landlords are struggling to pay bank loans, it's regrettable that the board is discouraging the use of this space."

Irish Independent

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