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Church plans sparks controversy in Theale

Village debates Oxford Diocese's plans for office building

Charlie Masters

Charlie Masters

charlie.masters@newburynews.co.uk

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07964 444701

Church plans sparks controversy in Theale

Theale Parish Council has registered its concern over plans to build an office building next to a church.

The proposals for a single-storey office at The Rectory in Englefield Road were lodged by the Oxford Diocese.

The space is intended to be used as an office for the diocese.

The plans have been recommended for approval by West Berkshire Council’s eastern area planning committee.

However, some Theale residents have questioned the impact the development could have on the Grade I-listed Holy Trinity Church.

Parish councillors also suggested a number of potential alternative sites the diocese could use.

These include a derelict school building.

The plans do, however, have a number of local supporters who believe Holy Trinity’s dilapidated facilities could be greatly improved by the new building.

Among those if favour of the plan is Margaret Elliot, a parochial staff member.

In a letter to the eastern area planning committee, Mrs Elliot said: “As a church warden at Holy Trinity, I can say that we have a desperate need for the kitchen, toilet [and] meeting room facilities … which this building would give us.

“We have been without these facilities for approximately 40 years – mainly due to lack of funds – which makes any work or events at the church extremely challenging, if not impossible.

“We are working very hard to keep the church as part of the community here in Theale, but the restrictions of a church built 187 years ago present almost insurmountable problems.”

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