Public to decide on Hatfield church move bid
THE decision to see whether a Hatfield church will be relocated into the town centre and have its former building redeveloped into housing is to be made by the public.
Plans to move City Church, currently on the junction of Acacia Street and The Wades, into Gracemead House were put on hold at a Welwyn Hatfield Council meeting this month.
The proposals, which would see the new church as part of a development consisting of a cafe, drop-in centre and offices for the Herts Young Homeless Group charity, includes knocking down the old church building and replacing it with housing to fund the move.
However, this is something which has met with fierce opposition from campaigners – 215 signed a petition stating the old church building should still be used as a place of worship – and they have forced the application to the council’s cabinet.
The old church building currently has a restrictive covenant on the land (placed by the Hatfield Development Corporation in the 1960s) protecting the site for church-use rather than for residential purposes and protesters believe this should not be lifted.
At the meeting, held earlier this month, the council decided to “undertake consultation with the local community” after “having received both support and opposition to the release of the covenant on the land, the council is now looking to undertake a consultation process with the Hatfield community”.
Rev Mike Dyce, of the City Church, told the Welwyn Hatfield Times they had “no problem” with the holding of a public consultation.
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He added: “The key point, though, is that the people must have all the relevant information to enable them to make a decision.
“This is not a choice between having a church or housing in a small site in South Hatfield.
“Instead it’s a choice between having: A) a small church that the local community hasn’t engaged with over many years (the campaign has wrongly said there are local mums and tots groups, etc, but they ended many years ago); or B) a new large community building right in the town centre accessible to all. This seems so right for the town.”