Concerns raised over plans for new church in Haverhill

River of Life new church site
River of Life new church site

Concerns have been raised about the development of a new church one resident claims will be ‘the size of the O2 (arena)’.

River of Life Community Church, which was based at Samuel Ward Academy and is currently at Castle Manor Academy, has applied to build a new site on unused land east of Chapelwent Road.

The new church will hold up to 350 people in its auditorium and having 80 parking spaces (73 cars, three minibus and four disabled), as well as a cycle shed for 20 bikes.

A decision on the plans is expected to be made by St Edmundsbury Council next month, and the church would cost around £3.5 million to build.

The church would also act as a community centre with a community café, and be open from 8am to 8pm on weekdays and 8am to 10pm weekends and bank holidays.

Three new jobs would be created – two part time and one full time.

It would be single storey with a mezzanine floor with offices.

Liza Smith, who lives on the road, said: “They’re seeking permission to build a church that will be the size of the O2.

“I’ll be raising a various objections and want to raise people’s awareness of it.

“My concerns are around the level of noise that will be produced from all the cars and in the church itself.

“There will also be congestion because if there’s two people in a car and 350 people then there will be 100 extra cars.”

Pastor Paul Turner said 350 would be the maximum capacity for the auditorium, and the current congregation is around 120.

“The point of wanting to have our own building it to grow,” he said.

“Parking has been the biggest concern and the last thing we want to be is a nuisance to residents.

“After the last consultation we increased the number of spaces and decreased the building size and will also have a strong travel plan in place.

“We want this to be a benefit to the community.”

The O2 Arena (former Millenium Dome) seats 20,000 people and is part of a larger complex including a cinema and 3,000 capacity music venue.

For all the latest news see Thursday’s (February 28) Echo.