UCKG "totally committed" to building church in Walthamstow after EMD cinema appeal rejected

The Guardian, UK/May 23, 2013

A religious group remains "totally committed" to creating a church in Walthamstow after its appeal against a decision blocking its conversion of a former cinema into a centre of worship was rejected.

Secretary of state for communities Eric Pickles today dismissed an appeal from the Universal Church for the Kingdom of God (UCKG) to overturn Waltham Forest Council's decision to reject its bid to turn the site into a centre of worship.

The government's planning inspectorate carried out a public enquiry in December 2012 and decided to reject the church's appeal, a decision endorsed by Mr Pickles.

It said Walthamstow is in "sore need" of regeneration, which it believes would be better provided by the site becoming an entertainment venue once again.

But the UCKG is now reviewing the government's report, and has sworn it will not give up on its aim despite campaigners who hope to see a return of the cinema urging it to sell the building.

A spokeswoman for the church said: "The UCKG is extremely disappointed in the secretary of state's decision.

"We made every conceivable effort to meet the needs of the entire community as well as our congregants and those who turned to us for assistance and support through our most recent planning applications.

"[We] remain totally committed to establishing a help centre in Walthamstow. There's no doubt in our minds that the assistance we provide for the most troubled and disadvantaged in society is needed.

"For the immediate future our trustees and planning consultants will be ,aking a detailed review of the secretary of state's report along with the planning inspectorate's findings."

If the UCKG decides not to sell the building the council has said it will make a compulsory purchase order, forcing the UCKG to sell the site, which the council will then sell to a buyer with the funds to turn it into an entertainment venue.

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