The Mormon Church has suffered defeat in its legal campaign to stop rates bills being slapped on its massive temple in Chorley.
Top judges ruled against the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, saying the temple did not qualify for a rates exemption – because it can only be used by selected Mormon believers and is not "a place of public religious worship."
The Appeal Court decision is a bitter blow to the Church whose 6,300 square metre temple is just one of a number of very large buildings set amidst 15 acres at Temple Way, adjacent to the M61 motorway.
Lord Justice Neuberger said that, for Mormons, their temples are considered the "Houses of the Lord and the most sacred places on earth."
At the Appeal Court, the Church challenged a decision of the Lands Tribunal that its Chorley temple did not qualify for exemption from rates.
But, dismissing the appeal, Lord Justice Neuberger said: "The activities carried out in the temple, far from 'relating to the organisation of the conduct of public religious worship,' are in reality 'acts of ritual worship carried out in private'."
He said the characteristics of the Mormon faith "cannot warrant a departure from the terms of the Local Government Finance Act 1988."