The Church of Scientology has upset neighbours with plans for a coach park at its UK HQ.
The group, which counts Tom Cruise and John Travolta among high-profile supporters, has applied for retrospective planning permission for a coach park at the Grade II listed Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead.
Residents say the plans could sour relations with the church, which has until now been a good neighbour.
Almost 50 objections raised concerns about the safety hazard posed by large buses using tight, winding country lanes, light, noise and air pollution and the harmful impact on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
The application, to be decided by Mid Sussex District Council night, is for a coach drop-off area and six parking bays over almost 700 square metres.
The church says it wants to end the unsustainable practice where staff are transported between accommodation in Crowborough to Saint Hill Manor using a fleet of 18 minibuses covering almost 500 miles every day.
It hopes to replace the minibuses with seven 9m long buses seating up to 32 people, which will cut daily fleet mileage to around 170 miles.
The district environmental health officer echoed residents’ concerns over the impact of traffic noise, suggesting the drop-off only be used between .
East Grinstead Town Council recommends refusal of the plans over traffic safety concerns and expressed disappointment the church was only seeking consent after the work had been done, saying it was “well versed in the planning process”.
Residents said work began last autumn and only stopped in February following a temporary road closure for electrical works and in the face of complaints from neighbours.
District council planning officers said the development would not have an adverse effect on the AONB or the 18th century manor house.
But they have recommended to allow use of the coach park for a temporary period to assess the impact.
Benjamin Leake, 41, who has lived in the hamlet of St Hill Green for five years, said: “It is a coach park in a residential area, an AONB, a peaceful hamlet and a Grade II listed building. You cannot just put a coach park in the middle of it.
“There is an existing coach park three or four minutes away so they are needlessly destroying an AONB and needlessly upsetting a community.”
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