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Sikh temple must make way for flats

PUBLISHED: 14:05 18 November 2009 | UPDATED: 11:13 23 August 2010

TEMPERS flared as the demolition of the Sikh temple was agreed. Onlookers were furious as the council s regulatory board voted in favour of pulling down the landmark temple in Clarence Place, Gravesend. At the Gravesham Borough Council meeting last Wedn

TEMPERS flared as the demolition of the Sikh temple was agreed.

Onlookers were furious as the council's regulatory board voted in favour of pulling down the landmark temple in Clarence Place, Gravesend.

At the Gravesham Borough Council meeting last Wednesday it was decided the venue will be replaced with 19 self contained flats and two two-storey, three bedroom homes.

Jonathan Clay, of Constitution Crescent, Gravesend, said the proposal was "shameful" and a "disgrace."

For decades thousands of Sikhs across north Kent have worshipped at the venue, which is now being replaced by the new Gurdwara temple off Khalsa Avenue, Gravesend.

Controversy centred on whether the previous owners of the temple, which dates back to 1873, had marketed the property adequately before selling it to developers Thamesview to allow alternative options other than complete demolition to come forward.

But Brian Sangha, a prominent member xof the Guru Nanak committee, stated the building had been advertised in a local newspaper for two weeks as well as the Punjabi Times, and extensive canvassing of the community had been undertaken to find a use for it.

This saw offers for a carpet warehouse, an Asian cash and carry and an Asian nightclub, but all were rejected.

He said: "We were determined that the building would not become something that would have a detrimental effect on the community," pointing out these commercial uses would have caused huge car parking problems and upset residents.

The council agreed to allow demolition in July, but the decision was challenged and brought before the High Court. Since then the council agreed to reconsider, but has stuck by its original decision.

Defending the demolition councillor Robin Theobald said: "There are probably myriad uses for this building but a myriad of uses that would be quite anti-social for people living in the area."

He added English Heritage had not thought the building worthy of

making a listed building.

SAVE Britain's Heritage, a group that campaigned against the demolition of the Siri Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara said they will continue to block the demolition.

Director William Palin "It is almost certain that we will challenge this decision.

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