Brethren plans are withdrawn

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PLANS for an exclusive school and worship hall in North Anston have been withdrawn from Rotherham Council.

A planning application was submitted by Elsworth Acres in November last year for the site between Common Road and Todwick Road.

The proposal by the Brethren, a Christian fellowship, has now been withdrawn following discussions with council planning officers.

Amended plans are expected to be submitted later in the year.

Sarah Foster, community consultation co-ordinator for the project, said: “Having now received detailed responses to the proposals, the applicant and their advisers met with officers of Rotherham Council to discuss the feedback received.”

“Following these discussions the applicant has decided to withdraw the current application and to prepare amended plans to address the detailed technical responses received as a result of the application submitted in November.”

“This approach is one of co-operation and Elsworth Acres and their agents will be working with council officers to prepare a new planning application which it is anticipated will be submitted later this year.”

“Design elements of the Gospel Hall will be reviewed, together with provision of additional landscaping and further research into assisting with highway and junction improvements along Todwick Road.”

“The applicants are committed to working closely with officers of the council and will be consulting the Parish Council before a revised planning application is submitted.”

Elsworth Acres is the company set up by the Brethren purely to deal with this planning application.

The Brethren, a Christian fellowship seen by some as a sect because of their separatist lifestyle, have bought 7.5 acres of land between Common Road and Todwick Road, next to Thornberry Animal Sanctuary.

They say their current site on Hellaby Industrial Estate in Hellaby, is too cramped to accommodate the 100 pupils who attend.

The new school would have space for 145 children aged seven to 18, who come exclusively from Brethren families.

And the proposed gospel hall could see up to 500 Brethren members congregate there on a Sunday, the main day of worship.

The Brethren say they searched more than 70 sites before choosing North Anston. But the land they have bought is protected by green belt policy.

The policy about building on greenbelt land can be broken if special circumstances apply, and the Brethren believe their proposals meet the relevant criteria.

Their plans for the site have divided the community.

At an Anston Parish Council meeting, councillors voted in favour of objecting to the plans. Their grounds for objection included traffic concerns, the dangerous crossroads and because it is planned for greenbelt land.

Others were in favour of the plans if it meant the crossroads at Common Road and Todwick Road were improved.