Christian Revival Church (CRC) win appeal after planning committee rejected bid to move into Harlow Leisurezone

Faith Matters / Sun 24th Jul 2022 at 11:49am

AN APPEAL after the Harlow Council planning committee rejected a bid by a church to use the Harlow Leisurezone has been allowed by a planning inspector.

Back in June 2021, the committee rejected the bid by Brass Architecture on behalf of the CRC Church .

At the time, all the councillors (Labour and Conservative) objected to the proposal. (see film below).

A Harlow Council spokesperson said: “The council notes the Inspector’s decision, but it also notes that no costs have been awarded against the council.

“The situation has now moved on with a veterinary business securing planning consent for that space in March 2022.”

YH has spoken to the Christian Revival Church (CRC) and will publish a respond in due course.

The full decision is below


  1. The appeal is allowed and planning permission is granted for change of use of science education area to accommodation for religious teachings (Use Class F) at Harlow Leisurezone, Second Avenue, Harlow CM20 3DT in accordance with the terms of the application, HW/FUL/21/00148, dated 17 March 2021, and the plans submitted with it, subject to the following conditions:
    1) The development hereby permitted shall begin not later than 3 years from the date of this decision.
    2) The development hereby permitted shall be carried out in accordance with the following approved plans: Site Location Plan – ref.0001 A 00; Site Location Plan – ref. 0002 A 00; Existing Unit Plan – ref. 0003 A 00; Proposed Unit Plan – ref.0004 A 00;.
    3) The use shall not operate except between the hours of 6.00am and 11.00pm on Mondays to Saturdays and Bank Holidays. No deliveries shall be taken at or despatched from the site outside the hours of 8.00am and 5.00pm Mondays to Fridays, nor at any time on Sundays or Bank Holidays.
    Preliminary Matter
  2. The description of development in the banner heading above has been taken from the Council’s decision notice as it is a more succinct, accurate description of the development before me than provided in part 5 of the planning application form. It is also the description given by the appellant in part E of the appeal form.
    Main Issue
  3. The main issue is the effect of the proposed change of use on the residents and users of the host leisure centre.


  1. The appeal site is an independently accessed unit in the north-east corner of the Harlow Leisurezone building located at the junction between Velizy Avenue and Second Avenue. The unit was originally used as a science education area, which ceased in 2018, and is currently a Covid vaccination centre. The proposal is to change the use of the unit to provide accommodation for religious teachings (Use Class F).
  2. The Harlow Leisurezone is principally a swimming pool and leisure, sports facility, but I saw from my site visit that it also accommodates others uses including a children’s nursery, hairdresser and café accessed from the central reception atrium. Policy L2 of the Harlow Local Development Plan (2020) (LP) supports the provision of recreational, sporting and cultural and community uses and/or facilities. The policy envisages a range of different community and cultural uses, including places of worship and educational facilities. Both the existing and proposed uses fall within the provisions of LP Policy L2, which gives no greater weight to one use, over the other.
  3. The Council’s reason for refusal refers to discrimination associated with the proposed development and their evidence to the appeal expands that this relates to concerns about some of the teachings and ideologies of the Church organisation proposed to occupy the unit. The planning system does not operate in the interests of individual organisations. It is the use of the land, in this case for religious teachings, and not the organisation that is the determining factor in deciding if the proposal is in accordance with the development plan. I have, however, given careful consideration to both the concerns of the Council, in respect of publicly made views of the leadership figures of the Church, and to the Statement from the Church that a number of the allegations are unfounded. I also recognise the sensitive timing of the planning application and its determination during the Covid pandemic.
  4. However, I have no factual evidence of any substance before me that the proposed change of use would lead to discrimination of the wider Harlow community or that it would reduce the actual, or perception of, safety for other users of the Harlow Leisurezone. The unit would have a separate access at the north-east end of the main building, away from the activity of the central reception atrium. Unlike the main sports and leisure facilities at the Leisurezone, there would be no internal access from the main building. To all intents and purposes the unit would be physically and functionally separate from it. I am therefore not persuaded that the presence of accommodation for religious teaching would in any way discourage others from using the existing facilities.
  5. Consequently, there would be no conflict with LP policies PL1 or L2 because the proposed change of use would create a safe and secure environment, accessible, should they choose, to all sectors of the community. Further, there would be no conflict with paragraph 130 of the National Planning Policy Framework in so far as it requires development to create places that are safe, inclusive and do not undermine the quality of life or community cohesion and resilience.
    https://www.gov.uk/planning-inspectorate 2


  1. In addition to the standard implementation condition, for the avoidance of doubt, it is necessary to define the plans with which the scheme should accord. It is also necessary, as suggested by the Council, for a condition to be imposed that aligns the opening and delivery hours with the wider Harlow Leisurezone use, and to protect the amenity of neighbours.
  2. For the reasons given above, I conclude that the appeal is allowed.R.Jones Planning Inspector

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17 Comments for Christian Revival Church (CRC) win appeal after planning committee rejected bid to move into Harlow Leisurezone:

2022-07-24 13:24:46

How disgraceful, so now openly homophobic organisations can use Harlow's Leisurezone. Harlow Council you should be ashamed.... utterly ashamed.

Nicholas Taylor
2022-07-24 16:36:24

I am afraid that it is the Trustees of the Leisurezone who should hold their heads in shame, not the Council who after all listened to the objections and refused permission. The second paragraph in section six is the key to this matter. The Trustees should haver listened to residents opposition and withdrawn their offer to the Church group top occupy this space.

James Leppard
2022-07-24 21:21:49

Ruth, Nicholas Taylor is right. If you actually read the article, you would see at the beginning that the original application was rejected unanimously by all members of the Development Committee - both Conservative and Labour. The Council cannot stop the Applicant from making an appeal.

David Vincent
2022-07-24 21:22:07

Now I understand why the Pilgrims set sail on the Mayflower in 1620. The United States Constitution guarantees the freedom of religious belief and practice in the First Amendment. It amazes me how many Brits consider the USA backward when the UK doesn't have a written Constitution that guarantees basic rights.

James Leppard
2022-07-24 21:37:23

David Vincent, nobody was denying anybody’s right to pursue whatever religion or faith they choose, simply that the Leisurezone is not an appropriate location for religious practices of any denomination or creed.

David Vincent
2022-07-24 22:08:15

To Councillor James Leppard I have two points: first is that the Council officers recommended to the Development Management (Planning) Committee that the CRC church's application should be approved; second point is the Planning Inspector said: "is the use of the land, in this case for religious teachings, and not the organisation that is the determining factor in deciding if the proposal is in accordance with the development plan." To quote Council officers I refer to page 87 of the public reports pack of the meeting on 8 June 2021: "The proposed change of use, therefore, is in principle acceptable and would comply with the Harlow Local Development Plan." So the councillors were wrong, end of. To see the report pack click following link and start from page 84: https://moderngov.harlow.gov.uk/documents/g1378/Public%20reports%20pack%2008th-Jun-2021%2019.30%20Development%20Management%20Committee.pdf?T=10

James Leppard
2022-07-24 22:21:46

David Vincent, you are quoting the Planning Inspector on appeal. Yes, the Planning Management recommended approval, but in view of the objections from the public and the issue of whether the Leisurezone should be used for religious purposes, I believe the concerns voiced unanimously by Committee members were not capricious. Sometimes, one may lose but still be right. Unfortunately, we must now to defer to the ruling.

David Vincent
2022-07-24 22:51:26

Councillor Leppard, Council officers presented a supplementary report summarising the 5 objections to the application. On page 10 Council Officers say: "Hire costs and religion are not a material consideration." "In conclusion, the additional letters of representation received do not alter the Officer’s recommendation to grant planning permission subject to conditions." So, you and the other 7 councillors were incorrect to refuse the application. Yourharlow readers can read the supplementary report at: https://moderngov.harlow.gov.uk/documents/b4525/Supplementary%20Agenda%201%20-%20Supplementary%20Representations%2008th-Jun-2021%2019.30%20Development%20Management%20.pdf?T=9

James Leppard
2022-07-25 00:37:35

So, one may conclude that you are happy with the outcome.

2022-07-25 05:45:27

The Christian Revival Church preaches the 'prosperity' gospel. This is an unbiblical doctrine that tells you that you will become finacially prosperous if you give to their church. The head of the CRC is a man called At Boshoff, who is one of the richest pastors (I use that term loosely) in Africa. Do not give your money to this so called church. In Harlow, there are Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist and Lutheran denominations who will welcome you into their pews and who care about your souls, not your money

2022-07-25 06:15:48

A bit of cross training eh?

2022-07-25 11:12:04

Was it Harlow Recreational Trust that supported sports in the town, that invested heavily in the LeisureZone? The old sports centre was demolished and the investment cut funding to other sports groups in the town. No one intended that any of the site should be used for religious purposes, Churches have already acquired centres in the town that were intended for non religious community and sports activities by hoodwinking and excluding residents and this church is an anachronism, the Trustees of the LeisureZone failed in entertaining the proposal from the Church nowhere in the objects of the LeisureZone charity are the Trustees obligated to provide a place of worship and indoctrination and so they failed us all. Had the Council not withdrawn it's support for Science Alive, something that ties in with much needed STEM education as the town is growing a strong Science and IT sector then this situation would never have happened. Only a narrow minded rich Church would continue to press when it's clearly not needed or wanted.

Gym bunny
2022-07-25 12:58:59

Why don't you let him run his sham church in the town hall as their seems to be lots of room in their and it will make it easier for him to bank his cash. Will he be using the pool for mass baptisms. Please stop stealing our amenities and giving them to a select few who shout the loudest, or are the council scared to say NO certain groups in case they are labeled racist.

2022-07-26 10:40:53

A religious setting in a sports centre. Makes sense... Not. I've heard stories about CRC, they sound more like a cult that just want your money. How can they justify wanting to have a church. I worked in cineworld for a period of time and a church group, I think it was CRC but not sure, wanted to hire out a screen everyday for their preachings! Get a proper church. They take their congregations money so must be able to afford a new build church. Not have one in an empty shop leisure centre or cinema.

Andrew Bond
2022-07-26 11:28:01

CRC "Church" are a registered business and a registered charity, but NOT a registered Church

Michael Hardware
2022-07-26 12:06:53

The problem, the issue, is that the LeisureZone is not the right location for a church. The trustees, who lease the centre from the council, need to listen to residents, to the council and to the MP about what we all want to see in our Leisure Centre. It is not a church, and not a vets. The £40million spent on the leisure centre was not to create commercial units but provide leisure and associated facilities for the town.

A hickman
2023-05-11 09:23:14

We hear so much about inclusivity but when it comes to church, so many are prejudiced! I don’t know these people or what they believe, but they have as much right as anyone else to hire. Not sure what people mean by not appropriate?

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