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Fight to save historic temple

PUBLISHED: 17:19 12 August 2009 | UPDATED: 10:57 23 August 2010

UNDER THREAT: Sikh Temple in Clarence Place

UNDER THREAT: Sikh Temple in Clarence Place

AN organisation which campaigns to save historic buildings has branded a decision to grant consent for the demolition of a Sikh temple as tragic and short-sighted. Gravesham Borough Council has given developer Thamesview Living permission to build 19 f

AN organisation which campaigns to save historic buildings has branded a decision to grant consent for the demolition of a Sikh temple as "tragic and short-sighted."

Gravesham Borough Council has given developer Thamesview Living permission to build 19 flats and two houses on the site of the Siri Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara in Clarence Place, Gravesend.

National campaign group Save Britain's Heritage, known as SAVE, say they are "shocked" at the decision made at the Regulatory Board meeting on July 29, which will see the demolition of the existing building, built in 1872 and the former Milton Congregational Church.

They say the building lies within the Windmill Hill conservation area and have supported Gravesend-based architecture and heritage pressure group Urban Gravesham in the opposition to the plan.

William Palin, director of SAVE said: "We have supported Urban Gravesham in arguing that this was a landmark building which made a positive contribution to the conservation area and its loss would not be outweighed by the public benefits of the new development

"We think the decision to permit this demolition is contrary to Gravesham Borough Council's conservation policy, laid out in the recent conservation area appraisal.

He added: "Given that the damage inflicted upon Gravesend during the Blitz and later as a result of post-war road-led redevelopment, the decision to condemn this building seems all the more tragic and short-sighted. SAVE is now considering judicially reviewing the council's decision."

The building, which has been a Sikh temple since 1968, is currently owned by the Sikh community, but is in the process of being sold to the developer.

The Guru Nanak Day centre in The Grove, Gravesend, will also be sold to the developer when the sale is finalised.

The church was designed by Sir John Sulman, who worked with John W Rhodes in designing and building more than 70 churches across the country. He is best known for his work in Australia, where he became a leading architect, designing the Civic Centre buildings in Canberra.

The new £11 million Gurdwara in Khalsa Avenue, Gravesend, was partially opened on July 1.

Harold Craske, chairman of the Regulatory Board, which decides on planning issues in the borough, said: "When the board came to its decision they had considered all the points made by the objectors to the proposal in both writing and in person and they reached their decision, in my view, properly.

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